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But wheji the council broke, I rose and past 
Thro' the wild woods that hung about the toiun; 
Fo7ind a still place, and pluck' d her likeness out 
Laid it on Jlowers, and watch' d it lying bathed 
In the green gleam of dewy-tasseWd trees. 







{The rights of translation and of reprodtiction 
are reso-ved.) 


Prologue i 

Part 1 15 

Part IT. 31 

Part III 59 

Part IV 81 

Part V 115 

Part VI 149 

Part VII 173 

Conclusion 193 



Sir Walter Vivian all a summer's day 
Gave his broad lawns until the set of sun 
Up to the people : thither flock' d at noon 
His tenants^ wife and child^ and thither half 
The neighbouring borough with their Institute 
Of which he was the patro7i. I was there 
From college, visiting the son, — the son 
A Walter too, — with others of our set, 
Five others : we were seven at Vivian-place, 

And me that morning Walter showed the house, 
Greek, set with busts : from vases in the hall 
Flowers of all heavens, and lovelier than their 




Grew side by side; and 07t the pavement lay 
Carved stones of the Abbey -ruin in the park ^ 
Huge Amtnonites, and the first bones of Time; 
And on the tables every clime and age 
Jumbled together; celts and calumets^ * 
Clayfnore and snow shoe, toys in lav a, fans 
Of sandal, amber, ancient rosaries, 
Laborious orient ivory sphere in sphere, 
The cursed Malayan crease, a7id battle-clubs 
From the isles ofpahn :■ and higher on the walls, 
Betwixt the monstrous horns of elk and deer, 
His own forefather^ arms and armour hung, 

A nd " this'^ he said was HugKs atAgincourt; 
And that was old Sir Ralph^s at Ascalon : 
A good knight he I we keep a chro7iicle 
With all about him " — which he brought, and / 
Dived in a hoard of tales that dealt with knights, 
Half legend^ half historic, counts and kings 
Who laid about the?n at their wills and died; 


And mixt with these ^ a lady^ one that arnCd 
Her own fair head^ a7td sallying thrd the gate, 
Had beat her foes with slaughter from her walls. 

" O 7niracle ofwomen^^ said the book, 
" O noble heart who, being strait-besieged 
By this wild king to force her to his wish, 
Nor bent, nor broke, nor shunned a soldier's death, 
But now when all was lost or seemed as lost — 
Her stature more than mortal in the burst 
Of sunrise, her arm lifted, eyes on fire — 
Brake with a blast of trumpets from the gate. 
And, falling on them like a thunderbolt, 
She trampled some beneath her horsed heels. 
And some were whelmed with missiles of the 

And some were push! d with lances from the rock, 
And part were drown' d within the whirling 
brook : 

O miracle of noble wo7nanhood 


So sang the gallant glorious chronicle; 
And^ I all rapt in this^ Co7ne out^^ he said, 
" To the Abbey : there is Aunt Elizabeth 
And sister Lilia with the restP We went 
(/ kept the book and had my finger in it) 
Down thro* the park : strange was the sight to mej 
For all the sloping pasture 7nurmur'd^ sown 
With happy faces and with holiday. 
There moved the multitude, a thousand heads : 
The patient leaders of their Institute 
Taught them with facts. One reared a font of 

And drew,fro7n butts of water on the slope, 
The fountain of the moment, playing, now 
A twisted snake, and now a rain of pearls, 
Or steep-up spout whereon the gilded ball 
Danced like a wisp : and somewhat lower down 
A 7nan with knobs and wires and vials fired 
A cannon : Echo aiiswer'd in her sleep 
From hollow fields : and here were telescopes 


For azure views; and there a group of girls 
In circle waited^ whom the electric shock 
Dislink'd with shrieks afid laughter: round the 

A little clock-work steamer paddling plied 
And shook the lilies : perched about the knolls 
A dozen angry models jetted steam : 
A petty railway ran : a fire-balloon 
Rose gem-like up before the dusky groves 
And dropt a fairy parachute and past : 
And there thro^ twenty posts of telegraph 
They flashed a saucy message to and fro 
Between the mimic stations; so that sport 
Went hand in hand with Science; otherwhere 
Pure sport : a herd of boys with clamour bowVd 
And stump d the wicket; babies rolVd about 
Like tumbled fruit in grass; and men and maids 
Arranged a country dance ^ and flew thrd light 
And shadow J while the twangling violin 
Struck up with Soldier-laddie^ and overhead 



The broad ambrosial aisles of lofty lime 

Made noise with bees and breeze from end to end. 

Strange was the sight and smacking of the time; 
And long we gazed, but satiated at length 
Came to the ruins. High-arched and ivy-claspt^ 
Of finest Gothic lighter than a fire, 
Thro' one wide chasm of tifne and frost they gave 
The park, the crowd, the house ; but all within 
The sward was trim as any garden lawn : 
And here we lit on Aunt Elizabeth, 
And Lilia with the rest, and lady friends 
From neighbour seats : and there was Ralph 

A broken statue pr opt against the wall. 
As gay as any. Lilia, wild with sport, 
Half child half woman as she was, had wound 
A scarf of orange round the stony helm. 
And robed the shoulders in a rosy silk. 
That made the old warrior from his ivied nook 


Glow like a sunbeam: near his tomb a feast 
Shone, silver-set; about it lay the guests, 
And there we joined them : then the maiden Aunt 
Took this fair day for text, and from- it preached 
An universal culture for the crowds 
And all things great; but we, unworthier, told 
Of college : he had climUd across the spikes, 
And he had squeezed himself betwixt the bars, 
And he had breathed the Proctor's dogs ; and one 
Discus^ d his tutor ^ rough to common men, 
But honeying at the whisper of a lord; 
And one the Master, as a rogue in grain 
Veneer' d with sanctimonious theory. 

But while they taWd, above their heads I saw 
The feudal warrior lady -clad ; which brought 
My book to mind : and opening this I read 
Of old Sir Ralph a page or two that rang 
With tilt and tourney ; then the tale of her 
That drove her foes with slaughter from her walls, 



And much I praised her nobleness, and " Where 
Asl^d Walter, patting Lilids head {she lay 
Beside him) lives there such a woman nowV^ 

Quick answered Lilia " There are thousands 

Such women, but convention beats them down : 
It is but bringing upj no more than that: 
You men have done it: how I hate you all ! 
Ah, were I something great I I wish I were 
So7ne mighty poetess, I would shame you then, 
That love to keep us children / O I wish 
That I were some great princess, I would build 
Far off from men a college like a matCs, 
And I would teach them all that men are taught; 
We are twice as quick I " And here she shook 

The hand that played the patron with her ctirls. 

And one said smiling " Pretty were the sight 


If our old halls could change their sex, and flaunt 
With prudes for proctors, dowagers for deans, 
And sweet girl-graduates in their golden hair, 
I think they should not wear our rusty gowns. 
But move as rich as Emperor-moths, or Ralph 
Who shines so in the corner; yet I fear^ 
If there were many Lilias in the brood. 
However deep you might embower the nest, 
Some boy would spy it" 

At this up07i the sward 
She tapt her tiny silken-sandaPd foot : 
" Thafs your light way; but I would make it 

For any male thing but to peep at us," 

Petulant she spoke, and at herself she laughed; 
A rosebud set with little wilful thorns, 
And sweet as English air could make her, she : 
But Walter haiVd a score ofna7nes upon her, 
And petty Ogress" and ^'ungrateful Puss," 



And swore he longed at college^ only long'd^ 

All else was well ^ for she-society. 

They boated and they cricketed; they taWd 

At wine, in clubs, of art, of politics j 

They lost their weeks; they vext the souls of deans; 

They rode; they betted; made a hundred friends, 

And caught the blossom of the flying terms. 

But miss'd the mignonette of Vivian-place, 

The little hearth-flower Lilia, Thus he spoke, 

Part banter, part affectio7t, 

" True,^^ she said, 
" We doubt not that, O yes, you miss'd us much. 
T il stake my ruby ring upon it you didJ^ 

She held it out; and as a parrot turns 
Up thrd gilt wires a crafty loving eye, 
And takes a lady's finger with all care, 
And bites it for true heart and not for harm, 
So he with Lilians. Daintily she shrieked 
A nd wrung it. " Doubt my word again ! " he said. 



" Come^ listen I here is proof that you were missed: 
We seven stayed at Christmas up to read; 
And there we took one tutor as to read : 
The hard-grain! d Muses of the cube and square 
Were out of season : never man^ I think ^ 
So mouldered in a sinecure as he : 
For while our cloisters echoed frosty feety 
A nd our long walks were stript as bare as broo7ns, 
We did but talk you over^ pledge you all 
In wassail J often, like as maity girls — 
Sick for the hollies and the yews of home — 
As many little trifling Lilias—play'd 
Charades and riddles as at Christmas here, 
A^nd what's my thought and when and where 
and how, 

And often told a tale from mouth to mouth 
As here at Christmas P 

She reme^nber'd that : 
A pleasant game, she thought : she liked it more 
Than magic music, forfeits, all the rest. 



But these — what kind of tales did inen tell men, 
She wonder' d, by themselves ? 

A half-disdain 
Perched on the pouted blosso7n of her lips : 
And Walter nodded at 7ne ; "He began, 
The rest would follow, each in turn; and so 
We forged a sevenfold story. Kind? what kind? 
Chimeras, crotchets, Christmas solecisms. 
Seven-headed inomters only 7nade to kill 
Time by the fire in winterP 

" Kill him now. 
The tyrant! kill him in the summer too,'^ 
Said Liliaj " Why not now f " the maiden Aunt, 
" Why not a summer's as a winter's tale ? 
A tale for swmner as befits the time, 
And so77tething it should be to suit the place. 
Heroic, for a hero lies beneath, 
Grave, solemn / ^' 

Walter warped his mouth at this 
To something so mock-solemn, that I laughed 


And Lilia woke with sudden-shrilling mirth 
An echo like a ghostly woodpecker^ 
Hid in the ruins j till the maiden Aunt 
{A little sense of wrong had touched her face 
With colour) turn'd to me with '^As you willj 
Heroic if you will, or what you willy 
Or be yourself your hero if you wilU^ 

" Take Liliay then^for heroine clamom''d he^ 
And make her some great Princess ^six feet high ^ 
Grand, epic, homicidal; and be yoic 
The Prince to win her I " 

" Then follow 7ne, the Prince^^ 
I answered, " each be hero in his turn ! 
Seven and yet one, like shadows in a dream, — 
Heroic seems our Princess as required — 
But something made to suit with Time and place, 
A Gothic ruin and a Grecian house, 
A talk of college and of ladies' rights, 
A feudal knight in silken masquerade, 


And, yonder, shrieks a7td strange experiments 
For which the good Sir Ralph had burnt them 
all — 

This were a medley / we should have him back 
Who told the ' Winter's tale ' to do it for us. 
No matter : we will say whatever comes, 
A7id let the ladies sing us, if they will, 
Fro7n time to time, some ballad or a song 
To give us breathing-space,^^ 

So I bega7t, 
A7id the rest follow' d : and the wo7nen sang 
Between the rougher voices of the men. 
Like linnets in the pauses of the wind: 
And here I give the story and the songs. 


A prince I was, blue-eyed, and fair in face, 
Of temper amorous, as the first of May, 
With lengths of yellow ringlet, like a girl, 
For on my cradle shone the Northern star. 

There lived an ancient legend in our house. 
Some sorcerer, whom a far-off grandsire burnt 
Because he cast no shadow, had foretold, 
Dying, that none of all our blood should know 
The shadow from the substance, and that one 
Should come to fight with shadows and to fall. 
For so, my mother said, the story ran. 
And, truly, waking dreams were, more or less, 
An old and strange affection of the house. 
Myself too had weird seizures. Heaven knows 
what : 


On a sudden in the midst of men and day, 
And while I walked and talked as heretofore, 
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts, 
And feel myself the shadow of a dream. 
Our great court-Galen poised his gilt -head cane, 
And pa\v'd his beard, and mutter'd catalepsy." 
My mother pitying made a thousand prayers ; 
My mother was as mild as any saint, 
Half-canonized by all that looked on her, 
So gracious was her tact and tenderness : 
But my good father thought a king a king ; 
He cared not for the affection of the house ; 
He held his sceptre like a pedant's wand 
To lash offence, and with long arms and hands 
Reached out, and pick'd offenders from the mass 
For judgment. 

Now it chanced that I had been, 
While life was yet in bud and blade, betroth'd 
To one, a neighbouring Princess : she to me 
Was proxy-wedded with a bootless calf 


At eight years old ; and still from time to time 
Came murmurs of her beauty from the South, 
And of her brethren, youths of puissance ; 
And still I wore her picture by my heart, 
I And one dark tress ; and all around them both 
Sweet thoughts would swarm as bees about their 

But when the days drew nigh that I should wed, 
My father sent ambassadors with furs 
And jewels, gifts, to fetch her : these brought back 
A present, a great labour of the loom ; 
And therewithal an answer vague as wind : 
Besides, they saw the king ; he took the gifts ; 
He said there was a compact that was true : 
But then she had a will ; was he to blame ? 
And maiden fancies ; loved to live alone 
Among her v/omen ; certain, would not wed. 

That morning in the presence room I stood 


With Cyril and with Florian, my two friends : 

The first, a gentleman of broken means 

(His father's fault) but given to starts and bursts 

Of revel ; and the last, my other heart, 

And almost my half-self, for still we moved 

Together, twinned as horse's ear and eye. 

Now, while they spake, I saw my father's face 
Grow long and troubled like a rising moon, 
Inflamed with wrath : he started on his feet, 
Tore the king's letter, snowed it down, and rent 
The wonder of the loom thro' warp and woof 
From skirt to skirt ; and at the last he sware 
That he would send a hundred thousand men. 
And bring her in a whirlwind : then he chew'd 
The thrice-turn'd cud of wrath, and cook'd his 

Communing with his captains of the war. 

At last I spoke. " My father, let me go. 


It cannot be but some gross error lies 
In this report, this answer of a king. 
Whom all men rate as kind and hospitable : 
Or, maybe, I myself, my bride once seen. 
Whatever my grief to find her less than fame, 
May rue the bargain made." And Florian said : 

I have a sister at the foreign court, 
Who moves about the Princess ; she, you know, 
Who wedded with a nobleman from thence : 
He, dying lately, left her, as I hear, 
The lady of three castles in that land : 
Thro' her this matter might be sifted clean." 
And Cyril whispered : " Take me with you too.'' 
Then laughing " what, if these weird seizures 

Upon you in those lands, and no one near 
To point you out the shadow from the truth ! 
Take me : I'll serve you better in a strait ; 
I grate on rusty hinges here : " but " No ! " 
Roar'd the rough king, "you shall not ; we ourself 


Will crush her pretty maiden fancies dead 
In iron gauntlets : break the council up.^' 

But when the council broke, I rose and past 
Thro' the wild woods that hung about the town ; 
Found a still place, and pluck'd her likeness out ; 
Laid it on flowers, and watch'd it lying bathed 
In the green gleam of dewy-tasselFd trees : 
What were those fancies? wherefore break her 
troth ? 

Proud look'd the lips : but while I meditated 
A wind arose and rush'd upon the South, 
And shook the songs, the whispers, and the 

Of the wild woods together ; and a Voice 
Went with it, "Follow, follow, thou shalt win." 

Then, ere the silver sickle of that month 
Became her golden shield, I stole from court 
With Cyril and with Florian, unperceived, 



Cat-footed thro' the town and half in dread 
To hear my father's clamour at our backs 
With Ho ! from some bay-window shake the 
night ; 

But all was quiet : from the bastion'd walls 
Like threaded spiders, one by one, we dropt. 
And flying reached the frontier : then we crost 
To a livelier land ; and so by tilth and grange, 
And vines, and blowing bosks of wilderness, 
We gain'd the mother- city thick with towers. 
And in the imperial palace found the king. 

His name was Gama ; crack'd and small his 

But bland the smile that like a wrinkling wind 
On glassy water drove his cheek in lines ; 
A little dry old man, without a star. 
Not like a king : three days he feasted us. 
And on the fourth I spake of why we came. 
And my betroth'd. " You do us, Prince," he said, 


Airing a snowy hand and signet gem, 
"All honour. We remember love ourselves 
In our sweet youth : there did a compact pass 
Long summers back, a kind of ceremony — 
I think the year in which our olives fail'd. 
I would you had her, Prince, with all my heart, 
With my full heart : but there were widows here, 
Two widows, Lady Psyche, Lady Blanche ; 
They fed her theories, in and out of place 
Maintaining that with equal husbandry 
The woman were an equal to the man. 
They harp'd on this ; with this our banquets rang ; 
Our dances broke and buzz'd in knots of talk ; 
Nothing but this ; my very ears were hot 
To hear them : knowledge, so my daughter held, 
Was all in all : they had but been, she thought, 
As children ; they must lose the child, assume 
The woman : then. Sir, awful odes she wrote, 
Too awful, sure, for what they treated of, 
But all she is and does is awful ; odes 


About this losing of the child ; and rhymes 
And dismal lyrics, prophesying change 
Beyond all reason : these the women sang ; 
And they that know such things — I sought but 
peace ; 

No critic I — would call them masterpieces : 

They mastered me. At last she begged a boon, 

A certain summer-palace which I have 

Hard by your father's frontier : I said no. 

Yet being an easy man, gave it : and there. 

All wild to found an University 

For maidens, on the spur she fled ; and more 

We know not, — only this : they see no men, 

Not ev'n her brother Arac, nor the twins 

Her brethren, tho' they love her, look upon her 

As on a kind of paragon ; and I 

(Pardon me saying it) were much loth to breed 

Dispute betwixt myself and mine : but since 

(And I confess with right) you think me bound 

In some sort, I can give you letters to her ; 


And yet, to speak the truth, I rate your chance 
Almost at naked nothing." 

Thus the king ; 
And I, tho' nettled that he seem'd to slur 
With garrulous ease and oily courtesies 
Our formal compact, yet, not less (all frets 
But chafing me on fire to find my bride) 
Went forth again with both my friends. We rode 
Many a long league back to the North. At last 
From hills, that looked across a land of hope, 
We dropt with evening on a rustic town 
Set in a gleaming river's crescent-curve, 
Close at the boundary of the liberties ; 
There, enter'd an old hostel, calFd mine host 
To council, plied him with his richest wines, 
And show'd the late-writ letters of the king. 

He with a long low sibilation, stared 
As blank as death in marble ; then exclaimed 
Averring it was clear against all rules 


For any man to go : but as his brain 
Began to mellow, " If the king," he said, 
" Had given us letters, was he bound to speak ? 
The king would bear him out and at the last — 
The summer of the vine in all his veins — 
"No doubt that we might make it worth his while. 
She once had past that way ; he heard her speak ; 
She scared him ; life ! he never saw the like ; 
She looked as grand as doomsday and as grave : 
And he, he reverenced his liege-lady there ; 
He always made a point to post with mares ; 
His daughter and his housemaid were the boys : 
The land, he understood, for miles about 
Was tilFd by women ; all the swine were sows, 
And all the dogs " — 

But while he jested thus, 
A thought flashed thro' me which I clothed in act, 
Remembering how we three presented Maid 
Or Nymph, or Goddess, at high tide of feast. 
In masque or pageant at my father's court. 


We sent mine host to purchase female gear ; 
He brought it, and himself, a sight to shake 
The midriff of despair with laughter, holp 
To lace us up, till, each, in maiden plumes 
We rustled : him we gave a costly bribe 
To guerdon silence, mounted our good steeds, 
And boldly ventured on the liberties. 

We followed up the river as we rode, 
And rode till midnight when the college lights 
Began to glitter firefly -like in copse 
And linden alley : then we past an arch, 
Whereon a woman-statue rose with wings 
From four wing'd horses dark against the stars ; 
And some inscription ran along the front, 
But deep in shadow : further on we gained 
A little street half garden and half house ; 
But scarce could hear each other speak for noise 
Of clocks and chimes, like silver hammers falling 
On silver anvils, and the splash and stir 


Of fountains spouted up and showering down 
In meshes of the jasmine and the rose : 
And all about us peal'd the nightingale, 
Rapt in her song, and careless of the snare. 

There stood a bust of Pallas for a sign, 
By two sphere lamps blazoned like Heaven and 

With constellation and with continent, 
Above an entry : riding in, we calM ; 
A plump-arm'd Ostleress and a stable wench 
Came running at the call, and help'd us down. 
Then stept a buxom hostess forth, and saird. 
Full-blown, before us into rooms which gave 
Upon a pillared porch, the bases lost 
In laurel : her we ask'd of that and this, 
And who were tutors. " Lady Blanche" she said, 
" And Lady Psyche." " Which was prettiest, 
Best-natured ? " " Lady Psyche." " Hers are we," 
One voice, we cried ; and I sat down and wrote 



In such a hand as when a field of corn 
Bows all its ears before the roaring East ; 

" Three ladies of the Northern empire pray 
Your Highness w^ould enroll them with your own, 
As Lady Psyche's pupils." 

This I seaFd : 
The seal was Cupid bent above a scroll, 
And o'er his head Uranian Venus hung, 
And raised the blinding bandage from his eyes : 
I gave the letter to be sent with dawn ; 
And then to bed, where half in doze I seemed 
To float about a glimmering night, and watch 
A full sea glazed with muffled moonlight, swell 
On some dark shore just seen that it was rich. 

As thro' the land at eve we went, 

And pluck'd the ripen'd ears, 
We fell out, my wife and I, 
O we fell out I know not why, 

And kiss'd again w^th tears. 
And blessings on the falling out 

That all the more endears. 
When we fall out w^ith those we love 

And kiss again with tears ! 
For when we came where lies the child 

We lost in other years, 
There above the little grave, 
O there above the little grave, 

We kiss'd again with tears. 


At break of day the College Portress came : 
She brought us Academic silks, in hue 
The lilac, with a silken hood to each, 
And zoned with gold; and now when these 
were on, 

And we as rich as moths from dusk cocoons, 
She, curtseying her obeisance, let us know 
The Princess Ida waited : out we paced, 
I first, and following thro' the porch that sang 
All round with laurel, issued in a court 
Compact of lucid marbles, boss'd with lengths 
Of classic frieze, with ample awnings gay 
Betwixt the pillars, and with great urns of flowers. 
The Muses and the Graces, grouped in threes, 
Enring'd a billowing fountain in the midst ; 


And here and there on lattice edges lay 
Or book or lute ; but hastily we past, 
And up a flight of stairs into the hall. 

There at a board by tome and paper sat, 
With two tame leopards couch'd beside her throne 
All beauty compass'd in a female form, 
The Princess ; liker to the inhabitant 
Of some clear planet close upon the Sun, 
Than our man's earth ; such eyes were in her head, 
And so much grace and power, breathing down 
From over her arch'd brows, with every turn 
Lived thro' her to the tips of her long hands, 
And to her feet. She rose her height, and said : 

" We give you welcome : not without redound 
Of use and glory to yourselves ye come, 
The first-fruits of the stranger : aftertime, 
And that full voice which circles round the grave. 
Will rank you nobly, mingled up with me. 


What ! are the ladies of your land so tall?" 
" We of the court " said Cyril. " From the court 
She answered, " then ye know the Prince ?" 
and he : 

" The climax of his age ! as tho' there were 
One rose in all the world, your Highness that, 
He worships your ideal she replied : 
" We scarcely thought in our own hall to hear 
This barren verbiage, current among men, 
Light coin, the tinsel clink of compliment. 
Your flight from out your bookless wilds would 

As arguing love of knowledge and of power ; 
Your language proves you still the child. Indeed, 
We dream not of him : when we set our hand 
To this great work, we purposed with ourself 
Never to wed. You likewise will do well, 
Ladies, in entering here, to cast and fling 
The tricks, which make us toys of men, that so. 
Some future time, if so indeed you will, 


You may with those self-styled our lords ally 
Your fortunes, justlier balanced, scale with scale." 

At those high words, we conscious of ourselves, 
Perused the matting ; then an officer 
Rose up, and read the statutes, such as these : 
Not for three years to correspond with home ; 
Not for three years to cross the liberties ; 
Not for three years to speak with any men ; 
And many more, which hastily subscribed, 
We enter'd on the boards : and " Now," she cried, 
"Ye are green wood, see ye warp not. Look, 
our hall ! 

Our statues ! — not of those that men desire. 

Sleek Odalisques, or oracles of mode. 

Nor stunted squaws of West or East; but she 

That taught the Sabine how to rule, and she 

The foundress of the Babylonian wall, 

The Carian Artemisia strong in war, 

The Rhodope, that built the pyramid, 


Clelia, Cornelia, with the Pahnyrene 
That fought Aurelian, and the Roman brows 
Of Agrippina. Dwell with these, and lose 
Convention, since to look on noble forms 
Makes noble thro' the sensuous organism 
That which is higher. O lift your natures up : 
Embrace our aims : work out your freedom. Girls, 
Knowledge is now no more a fountain seal'd : 
Drink deep, until the habits of the slave, 
The sins of emptiness, gossip and spite 
And slander, die. Better not be at all 
Than not be noble. Leave us : you may go : 
To-day the Lady Psyche will harangue 
The fresh arrivals of the week before ; 
For they press in from all the provinces, 
And mi the hive." 

She spoke, and bowing waved 
Dismissal : back again we crost the court 
To Lady Psyche's : as we enter'd in, 
There sat along the forms, like morning doves 


That sun their milky bosoms on the thatch, 
A patient range of pupils ; she herself 
Erect behind a desk of satin-wood, 
A quick brunette, well-moulded, falcon-eyed, 
And on the hither side, or so she look'd, 
Of twenty summers. At her left, a child, 
In shining draperies, headed like a star, 
Her maiden babe, a double April old, 
Aglaia slept. We sat : the Lady glanced : 
Then Florian, but no livelier than the dame 
That whisper'd "Asses' ears," among the sedge, 
" My sister.'' " Comely, too, by all that's fair," 
Said Cyril. " O hush, hush !" and she began. 

" This world was once a fluid haze of light, 
Till toward the centre set the starry tides, 
And eddied into suns, that wheeling cast 
The planets : then the monster, then the man ; 
Tattoo'd or woaded, winter-clad in skins, 
Raw from the prime, and crushing down his mate ; 


As yet we find in barbarous isles, and here 
Among the lowest" 

Thereupon she took 
A bird's-eye-view of all the ungracious past ; 
Glanced at the legendary Amazon 
As emblematic of a nobler age ; 
Appraised the Lycian custom, spoke of those 
That lay at wine with Lar and Lucumo ; 
Ran down the Persian, Grecian, Roman lines 
Of empire, and the woman's state in each. 
How far from just ; till warming with her theme 
She fulmined out her scorn of laws Salique 
And little-footed China, touched on Mahomet 
With much contempt, and came to chivalry : 
When some respect, however slight, was paid 
To woman, superstition all awry : 
However then commenced the dawn : a beam 
Had slanted forward, falling in a land 
Of promise ; fruit would follow. Deep, indeed, 
Their debt of thanks to her who first had dared 


To leap the rotten pales of prejudice, 
Disyoke their necks from custom, and assert 
None lordlier than themselves but that which 

Woman and man. She had founded ; they must 

Here might they learn whatever men were taught : 
Let them not fear : some said their heads were 
less : 

Some men's were small ; not they the least of 
men ; 

For often fineness compensated size : 
Besides the brain was like the hand, and grew 
With using ; thence the man's, if more was more ; 
He took advantage of his strength to be 
First in the field : some ages had been lost ; 
But woman ripen'd earlier, and her life 
Was longer; and albeit their glorious names 
Were fewer, scattered stars, yet since in truth 
The highest is the measure of the man, 


And not the Kaffir, Hottentot, Malay, 
Nor those horn-handed breakers of the glebe, 
But Homer, Plato, Verulam ; even so 
With woman : and in arts of government 
Elizabeth and others ; arts of war 
The peasant Joan and others ; arts of grace 
Sappho and others vied with any man : 
And, last not least, she who had left her place, 
And boVd her state to them, that they might 

To use and power on this Oasis, lapt 

In the arms of leisure, sacred from the blight 

Of ancient influence and scorn. 

At last 

She rose upon a wind of prophecy 

Dilating on the future ; "everywhere 

Two heads in council, two beside the hearth, 

Two in the tangled business of the world, 

Two in the liberal offices of life, 

Two plummets dropt for one to sound the abyss 


Of science, and the secrets of the mind : 
Musician, painter, sculptor, critic, more : 
And everywhere the broad and bounteous Earth 
Should bear a double growth of those rare souls, 
Poets, whose thoughts enrich the blood of the 

She ended here, and beckon'd us : the rest 
Parted ; and, glowing full-faced welcome, she 
Began to address us, and was moving on 
In gratulation, till as when a boat 
Tacks, and the slackened sail flaps, all her voice 
Faltering and fluttering in her throat, she cried 
"Mybrpther!" " Well, my sister/' " O/' she 

"What do you here? and in this dress? and 
these ? 

Why who are these ? a wolf within the fold ! 
A pack of wolves ! the Lord be gracious to me ! 
A plot, a plot, a plot, to ruin all ! " 


"No plot, no plot," he answered. " Wretched boy, 

How saw you not the inscription on the gate, 

Let no man enter in on pain of death ? " 

" And if I had," he answered, " who could think 

The softer Adams of your Academe, 

O sister. Sirens tho' they be, were such 

As chanted on the blanching bones of men ? " 

" But you will find it otherwise " she said. 

" You jest : ill jesting with edge-tools ! my vow 

Binds me to speak, and O that iron will, 

That axelike edge unturnable, our Head, 

The Princess." " Well then, Psyche, take my life. 

And nail me like a weasel on a grange 

For warning : bury me beside the gate, 

And cut this epitaph above my bones ; 

Here lies a bi'other by a sister slain, 

All for the co7nmon good of wo7nanki7idP 

" Let me die too," said Cyril, " having seen 

And heard the Lady Psyche." 

I struck in : 


Albeit so mask'd, Madam, I love the truth ; 
Receive it ; and in me behold the Prince 
Your countryman, affianced years ago 
To the Lady Ida: here, for here she was, 
And thus (what other way was left) I came." 
" O Sir, O Prince, I have no country ; none ; 
If any, this ; but none. Whatever I was 
Disrooted, what I am is grafted here. 
Affianced, Sir ? love-whispers may not breathe 
Within this vestal limit, and how should I, 
Who am not mine, say, live : the thunderbolt 
Hangs silent ; but prepare : I speak ; it falls." 

Yet pause," I said : " for that inscription there, 
I think no more of deadly lurks therein, 
Than in a clapper clapping in a garth, 
To scare the fowl from fruit : if more there be, 
If more and acted on, what follows ? war ; 
Your own work marr'd : for this your Academe, 
Whichever side be Victor, in the halloo 
Will topple to the trumpet down, and pass 


With all fair theories only made to gild 
A stormless summer.'^ " Let the Princess judge 
Of that " she said : " farewell, Sir — and to you. 
I shudder at the sequel, but I go." 

" Are you that Lady Psyche," I rejoined, 
The fifth in hne from that old Florian, 
Yet hangs his portrait in my father's hall 
(The gaunt old Baron with his beetle brow 
Sun-shaded in the heat of dusty fights) 
As he bestrode my Grandsire, when he fell, 
And all else fled : we point to it, and we say, 
The loyal warmth of Florian is not cold, 
But branches current yet in kindred veins." 
" Are you that Psyche," Florian added ; " she 
With whom I sang about the morning hills, 
Flung ball, flew kite, and raced the purple fly, 
And snared the squirrel of the glen ? are you 
That Psyche, wont to bind my throbbing brow, 
To smoothe my pillow, mix the foaming draught 


Of fever, tell me pleasant tales, and read 
My sickness down to happy dreams ? are you 
That brother-sister Psyche, both in one ? 
You were that Psyche, but what are you now ? 
" You are that Psyche," Cyril said, " for whom 
I would be that for ever which I seem, 
Woman, if I might sit beside your feet, 
And glean your scatter'd sapience.'^ 

Then once more, 
" Are you that Lady Psyche," I began, 
" That on her bridal morn before she past 
From all her old companions, when the king 
Kiss'd her pale cheek, declared that ancient ties 
Would still be dear beyond the southern hills ; 
That were there any of our people there 
In want or peril, there was one to hear 
And help them : look ! for such are these and I." 

Are you that Psyche," Florian ask'd, "to whom, 
In gentler days, your arrow- wounded fawn 
Came flying while you sat beside the well ? 


The creature laid his muzzle on your lap, 

And sobbM, and you sobb'd with it; and the blood 

Was sprinkled on your kirtle, and you wept. 

That was fawn's blood, not brother's, yet you wept. 

O by the bright head of my little niece, 

You were that Psyche, and what are you now ? " 

" You are that Psyche," Cyril said again, 

" The mother of the sweetest little maid, 

That ever crow'd for kisses." 

" Out upon it !" 
She answered, "peace ! and why should I not play 
The Spartan Mother with emotion, be 
The Lucius Junius Brutus of my kind } 
Him you call great : he for the common weal, 
The fading politics of mortal Rome, 
As I might slay this child, if good need were, 
Slew both his sons : and I, shall I, on whom 
The secular emancipation turns 
Of half this world, be swerved from right to save 
A prince, a brother? a little will I yield. 


Best so^ perchance, for us, and well for you. 
O hard, when love and duty clash ! I fear 
My conscience will not count me fleckless ; yet — 
Hear my conditions : promise (otherwise 
You perish) as you came, to slip away 
To-day, to-morrow, soon : it shall be said, 
These women were too barbarous, would not 
learn ; 

They fled, who might have shamed us : promise, 

What could we else, we promised each ; and 

Like some wild creature newly-caged, com- 

A to-and-fro, so pacing till she paused 
By Florian ; holding out her lily arms 
Took both his hands, and smiling faintly said : 
" I knew you at the first : tho' you have grown 
You scarce have alter'd : I am sad and glad 


To see you, Florian. / give thee to death 
My brother ! it was duty spoke, not I. 
My needful seeming harshness, pardon it. 
Our mother, is she well ? 

With that she kissed 
His forehead, then, a moment after, clung 
About him, and betwixt them blossom'd up 
From out a common vein of memory 
Sweet household talk, and phrases of the hearth. 
And far allusion, till the gracious dews 
Began to glisten and to fall : and while 
They stood, so rapt, we gazing, came a voice, 
" I brought a message here from Lady Blanche." 
Back started she, and turning round we saw 
The Lady Blanche's daughter where she stood, 
Melissa, with her hand upon the lock, 
A rosy blonde, and in a college gown. 
That clad her like an April daffodilly 
(Her mother's colour) with her lips apart, 
And all her thoughts as fair within her eyes, 


As bottom agates seen to wave and float 
In crystal currents of clear morning seas. 

So stood that same fair creature at the door. 
Then Lady Psyche, " Ah — Melissa — you ! 
You heard us and Melissa, " O pardon me 
1 heard, I could not help it, did not wish : 
But, dearest Lady, pray you fear me not. 
Nor think I bear that heart within my breast, 
To give three gallant gentlemen to death." 
" I trust you/' said the other, " for we two 
Were always friends, none closer, elm and vine : 
But yet your mother's jealous temperament — 
Let not your prudence, dearest, drowse, or prove 
The Danaid of a leaky vase, for fear 
This whole foundation ruin, and I lose 
My honour, these their lives. *^ Ah, fear me not " 
Replied Melissa ; "no — I would not tell, 
No, not for all Aspasia's cleverness. 
No, not to answer. Madam, all those hard things 


That Sheba came to ask of Solomon." 
" Be it so" the other, " that we still may lead 
The new light up, and culminate in peace, 
For Solomon may come to Sheba yet." 
Said Cyril, " Madam, he the wisest man 
Feasted the woman wisest then, in halls 
Of Lebanonian cedar : nor should you 
(Tho' mdidam you should answer, we would ask) 
Less welcome find among us, if you came 
Among us, debtors for our lives to you. 
Myself for something more." He said not what. 
But " Thanks," she answered " Go : we have 

been too long 
Together : keep your hoods about the face ; 
They do so that affect abstraction here. 
Speak little ; mix not with the rest ; and hold 
Your promise : all, I trust, may yet be well." 

We turn'd to go, but Cyril took the child. 
And held her round the knees against his waist, 


And blew the swolFn'^cheek of a trumpeter, 
While Psyche watch'd them, smiling, and the 

Pushed her flat hand against his face and 

laugh'd ; 
And thus our conference closed. 

And then we strolFd 
For half the day thro' stately theatres 
Bench'd crescent- wise. In each we sat, we heard 
The grave Professor. On the lecture slate 
The circle rounded under female hands 
With flawless demonstration : foUow'd then 
A classic lecture, rich in sentiment, 
With scraps of thundrous Epic lilted out 
By violet-hooded Doctors, elegies 
And quoted odes, and jewels five-words-long 
That on the stretch'd forefinger of all Time 
Sparkle for ever : then we dipt in all 
That treats of whatsoever is, the state, 
The total chronicles of man, the mind. 


The morals, something of the frame, the rock, 
The star, the bird, the fish, the shell, the flower, 
Electric, chemic laws, and all the rest. 
And whatsoever can be taught and known ; 
Till like three horses that have broken fence. 
And glutted all night long breast-deep in corn, 
We issued gorged with knowledge, and I spoke : 
" Why, Sirs, they do all this as well as we." 
" They hunt old trails " said Cyril " very well ; 
But when did woman ever yet invent ? " 
" Ungracious ! " answered Florian ; " have you 

No more from Psyche's lecture, you that talk'd 
The trash that made me sick, and almost sad 
" O trash " he said, " but with a kernel in it. 
Should I not call her wise, who made me wise ? 
And learnt ? I learnt more from her in a flash, 
Than if my brainpan were an empty hull, 
And every Muse tumbled a science in. 
A thousand hearts lie fallow in these halls. 


And round these halls a thousand baby loves 
Fly twanging headless arrows at the hearts, 
Whence follows many a vacant pang ; but O 
With me, Sir, entered in the bigger boy, 
The Head of all the golden-shafted firm, 
The long-limb'd lad that had a Psyche too ; 
He cleft me thro^ the stomacher ; and now 
What think you of it, Florian ? do I chase 
The substance or the shadow ? will it hold ? 
I have no sorcerer's malison on me. 
No ghostly hauntings like his Highness. I 
Flatter myself that always everywhere 
I know the substance when I see it. Well, 
Are castles shadows ? Three of them ? Is she 
The sweet proprietress a shadow ? If not, 
Shall those three castles patch my tatter'd coat ? 
For dear are those three castles to my wants, 
And dear is sister Psyche to my heart, 
And two dear things are one of double worth. 
And much I might have said, but that my zone 


Unmanned me : then the Doctors ! O to hear 
The Doctors! O to watch the thirsty plants 
Imbibing ! once or twice I thought to roar, 
To break my chain, to shake my mane : but thou. 
Modulate me, Soul of mincing mimicry ! 
Make liquid treble of that bassoon, my throat; 
Abase those eyes that ever loved to meet 
Star-sisters answering under crescent brows ; 
Abate the stride, which speaks of man, and loose 
A flying charm of blushes o'er this cheek, 
Where they like swallows coming out of time 
Will wonder why they came : but hark the bell 
For dinner, let us go !" 

And in we stream'd 
Among the columns, pacing staid and still 
By twos and threes, till all from end to end 
With beauties every shade of brown and fair 
In colours gayer than the morning mist. 
The long hall glitter'd like a bed of flowers. 
How might a man not wander from his wits 


Pierced thro' with eyes, but that I kept mine own 

Intent on her, who rapt in glorious dreams. 

The second-sight of some Astraean age, 

Sat compassed with professors : they, the while, 

Discussed a doubt and tost it to and fro : 

A clamour thicken'd, mixt with inmost terms 

Of art and science : Lady Blanche alone 

Of faded form and haughtiest lineaments, 

With all her autumn tresses falsely brown, 

Shot sidelong daggers at us, a tiger-cat 

In act to spring. 

At last a solemn grace 
Concluded, and we sought the gardens : there 
One walked reciting by herself, and one 
In this hand held a volume as to read, 
And smoothed a petted peacock down with that : 
Some to a low song oar'd a shallop by, 
Or under arches of the marble bridge 
Hung, shadow'd from the heat: some hid and 


In the orange thickets : others tost a ball 
Above the fountain-jets, and back again 
With laughter : others lay about the lawns, 
Of the older sort, and murmured that their 

Was passing : what was learning unto them ? 
They wished to marry ; they could rule a house ; 
Men hated learned women : but we three 
Sat muffled like the Fates ; and often came 
Melissa hitting all we saw with shafts 
Of gentle satire, kin to charity, 
That harm'd not : then day droopt ; the chapel 

Caird us : we left the walks ; we mixt with 

Six hundred maidens clad in purest white, 
Before two streams of light from wall to wall. 
While the great organ almost burst his pipes. 
Groaning for power, and rolling thro' the court 
A long melodious thunder to the sound 


Of solemn psalms, and silver litanies, 

The work of Ida, to call down from Heaven 

A blessing on her labours for the world. 

Sweet and low, sweet and low, 

Wind of the western sea, 
Low, low, breathe and blow, 

Wind of the western sea ! 
Over the rolling waters go. 
Come from the dying moon, and blow, 

Blow him again to me ; 
While my little one, while my pretty one, sleeps. 

Sleep and rest, sleep and rest. 

Father will come to thee soon ; 
Rest, rest, on mother's breast. 

Father will come to thee soon ; 
Father will come to his babe in the nest, 
Silver sails all out of the west 

Under the silver moon : 
Sleep, my little one, sleep, my pretty one, sleep. 


Morn in the white wake of the morning star 
Came furrowing all the orient into gold. 
We rose, and each by other drest with care 
Descended to the court that lay three parts 
In shadow, but the Muses' heads were touched 
Above the darkness from their native East. 

There while we stood beside the fount, and 

Or seem'd to watch the dancing bubble, ap- 

Melissa, tinged with wan from lack of sleep. 
Or grief, and glowing round her dewy eyes 
The circled Iris of a night of tears ; 
" And fly," she cried, " O fly, while yet you may ! 
My mother knows :" and when I ask'dher "how," 


" My fault " she wept " my fault ! and yet not 
mine ; 

Yet mine in part. O hear me, pardon me. 
My mother, 'tis her wont from night to night 
To rail at Lady Psyche and her side. 
She says the Princess should have been the 

Herself and Lady Psyche the two arms ; 
And so it was agreed when first they came ; 
But Lady Psyche was the right hand now, 
And she the left, or not, or seldom used ; 
Hers more than half the students, all the love. 
And so last night she fell to canvass you : 
Her countrywomen ! she did not envy her. 
* Who ever saw such wild barbarians ? 
Girls ? — more like men ! ' and at these words the 

My secret, seem'd to stir within my breast ; 
And oh, Sirs, could I help it, but my cheek 
Began to burn and bum, and her lynx eye 



To fix and make me hotter, till she laughed : 
* O marvellously modest maiden, you ! 
Men ! girls, like men ! why, if they had been men 
You need not set your thoughts in rubric thus 
For wholesale comment.' Pardon, I am shamed 
That I must needs repeat for my excuse 
What looks so little graceful : ^ men ' (for still 
My mother went revolving on the word) 
' And so they are, — very like men indeed — 
And with that woman closeted for hours ! ' 
Then came these dreadful words out one by one, 
' Why— these — aj-e — men : ' I shudder'd : ' and 

you know it.' 
' O ask me nothing,' I said : ' And she knows too, 
And she conceals it.' So my mother clutch'd 
The truth at once, but with no word from me ; 
And now thus early risen she goes to infoiTn 
The Princess : Lady Psyche will be crush'd ; 
But you may yet be saved, and therefore fly : 
But heal me with your pardon ere you go." 


" What pardon, sweet Melissa, for a blush ? " 
Said Cyril : " Pale one, blush again : than wear 
Those lilies, better blush our lives away. 
Yet let us breathe for one hour more in Heaven " 
He added, " lest some classic Angel speak 
In scorn of us, ' They mounted, Ganymedes, 
To tumble, Vulcans, on the second morn/ 
But I will melt this marble into wax 
To yield us farther furlough : and he went. 

Melissa shook her doubtful curls, and thought 
He scarce would prosper. " Tell us,'' Florian 

" How grew this feud betwixt the right and left." 
" O long ago," she said, " betwixt these two 
Division smoulders hidden \ 'tis my mother, 
Too jealous, often fretful as the wind 
Pent in a crevice : much I bear with her : 
I never knew my father, but she says 
(God help her) she v/as wedded to a fool ; 


And still she raiFd against the state of things. 
She had the care of Lady Ida's youth, 
And from the Queen's decease she brought 
her up. 

But when your sister came she won the heart 
Of Ida : they were still together, grew 
(For so they said themselves) inosculated ; 
Consonant chords that shiver to one note ; 
One mind in all things : yet my mother still 
Affirms your Psyche thieved her theories, 
And angled with them for her pupil's love : 
She calls her plagiarist ; I know not what : 
But I must go : I dare not tarry," and light, 
As flies the shadow of a bird, she fled. 

Then murmured Florian gazing after her, 
" An open-hearted maiden, true and pure. 
If I could love, why this were she : how pretty 
Her blushing was, and how she blush'd again, 
As if to close with Cyril's random wish : 


Not like your Princess cramm'd with erring pride, 
Nor like poor Psyche whom she drags in tow." 

" The crane," I said, " may chatter of the crane, 
The dove may murmur of the dove, but I 
An eagle clang an eagle to the sphere. 
My princess, O my princess ! true she errs, 
But in her own grand way : being herself 
Three times more noble than three score of men, 
She sees herself in every woman else. 
And so she wears her error like a crown 
To blind the truth and me : for her, and her, 
Hebes are they to hand ambrosia, mix 
The nectar ; but — ah she — whene'er she moves 
The Samian Here rises and she speaks 
A Memnon smitten with the morning Sun." 

So saying from the court we paced, and gained 
The terrace ranged along the Northern front, 
And leaning there on those balusters, high 


Above the empurpled champaign, drank the gale 
That blown about the foliage underneath, 
And sated with the innumerable rose, 
Beat balm upon our eyelids. Hither came 
Cyril, and yawning " O hard task/' he cried ; 
" No fighting shadows here ! I forced a way 
Thro' solid opposition crabbed and gnarl'd. 
Better to clear prime forests, heave and thump 
A league of street in summer solstice down, 
Than Jiammer at this reverend gentlewoman. 
I knock'd and, bidden, entered; found her there 
At point to move, and settled in her eyes 
The green malignant light of coming storm. 
Sir, I was courteous, every phrase well-oil'd, 
As man's could be ; yet maiden-meek I pray'd 
Concealment : she demanded who we were, 
And why we came ? I fabled nothing fair, 
But, your example pilot, told her all. 
Up went the hush'd amaze of hand and eye. 
But when I dwelt upon your old affiance, 



She answer'd sharply that I talk'd astray. 
I urged the fierce inscription on the gate, 
And our three lives. True — we had limed our- 

With open eyes, and we must take the chance. 
But such extremes, I told her, well might harm 
The woman's cause. ^Not more than now,' she 

' So puddled as it is with favouritism.' 
I tried the mother's heart. Shame might befall 
Melissa, knowing, saying not she knew : 
Her answer was ' Leave me to deal with that.' 
I spoke of war to come and many deaths, 
And she replied, her duty was to speak. 
And duty duty, clear of consequences. 
I grew discouraged, Sir; but since I knew 
No rock so hard but that a little wave 
May beat admission in a thousand years, 
I recommenced ; ^ Decide not ere you pause. 
I find you here but in the second place, 


Some say the third — the authentic foundress you. 
I offer boldly : we will seat you highest : 
Wink at our advent : help my prince to gain 
His rightful bride, and here I promise you 
Some palace in our land, where you shall reign 
The head and heart of all our fair she-world. 
And your great name flow on with broadening 

For ever/ Well, she balanced this a little, 
And told me she would answer us to-day, 
Meantime be mute ; thus much, nor more I 

He ceasing, came a message from the Head. 
" That afternoon the Princess rode to take 
The dip of certain strata to the North. 
Would we go with her 1 we should find the 

Worth seeing ; and the river made a fall 
Out yonder : " then she pointed on to where 


A double hill ran up his furrowy forks 
Beyond the thick-leaved platans of the vale. 

Agreed to, this, the day fled on thro' all 
Its range of duties to the appointed hour. 
Then summoned to the porch we went. She stood 
Among her maidens, higher by the head, 
Her back against a pillar, her foot on one 
Of those tame leopards. Kittenlike he rolFd 
And paw'd about her sandal. I drew near ; 
I gazed. On a sudden my strange seizure came 
Upon me, the weird vision of our house : 
The Princess Ida seem'd a hollow show. 
Her gay-furr'd cats a painted fantasy, 
Her college and her maidens, empty masks, 
And I myself the shadow of a dream. 
For all things were and w^ere not. Yet I felt 
My heart beat thick with passion and with awe : 
Then from my breast the involuntary sigh 
Brake, as she smote me with the light of eyes 


That lent my knee desire to kneel, and shook 
My pulses, till to horse we got, and so 
Went forth in long retinue following up 
The river as it narrow'd to the hills. 

I rode beside her and to me she said : 
" O friend, we trust that you esteemed us not 
Too harsh to your companion yestermorn ; 
Unwillingly we spake.'' " No — not to her," 
I answer'd, " but to one of whom we spake 
Your Highness might have seem'd the thing 
you say." 

" Again ? she cried, " are you ambassadresses 
From him to me ? we give you, being strange, 
A license : speak, and let the topic die." 

I stammered that I knew him — could have 
wish'd — 

" Our king expects — was there no precontract ? 
There is no truer-hearted— ah, you seem 
All he prefigured, and he could not see 


The bird of passage flying south but long'd 
To follow : surely, if your Highness keep 
Your purport, you will shock him ev'n to death, 
Or baser courses, children of despair." 

" Poor boy," she said, " can he not read — no 
books ? 

Quoit, tennis, ball — no games ? nor deals in that 
Which men delight in, martial exercise ? 
To nurse a blind ideal like a girl, 
Methinks he seems no better than a girl ; 
As girls were once, as we ourself have been : 
We had our dreams ; perhaps he mixt with them : 
We touch on our dead self, nor shun to do it, 
Being other — since we learnt our meaning here, 
To lift the woman's falFn divinity 
Upon an even pedestal with man." 

She paused, and added with a haughtier smile 
" And as to precontracts, we move, my friend. 


At no man's beck, but know ourself and thee, 

Vashti, noble Vashti ! Summoned out 
She kept her state, and left the drunken king 
To brawl at Shushan underneath the palms.'' 

"Alas your Highness breathes full East," I 

" On that which leans to you. I know the Prince, 

1 prize his truth : and then how vast a work 
To assail this gray preeminence of man ! 
You grant me license ; might I use it ? think ; 
Ere half be done perchance your life may fail ; 
Then comes the feebler heiress of your plan. 
And takes and ruins all ; and thus your pains 
May only make that footprint upon sand 
Which old-recurring waves of prejudice 
Resmooth to nothing : might I dread that you. 
With only Fame for spouse and your great deeds 
For issue, yet may live in vain, and miss. 
Meanwhile, what every woman counts her due, 


Love, children, happiness ? " 

And she exclaim'd, 
" Peace, you young savage of the Northern wild ! 
What ! tho' your Prince's love were like a God's, 
Have we not made ourself the sacrifice ? 
You are bold indeed : we are not talked to thus : 
Yet will we say for children, would they grew 
Like field-flowers everywhere ! we like them well : 
But children die ; and let me tell you, girl, 
Howe'er you babble, great deeds cannot die ; 
They with the sun and moon renew their light 
For ever, blessing those that look on them. 
Children — that men may pluck them from our 

Kill us with pity, break us with ourselves — 
O — children — there is nothing upon earth 
More miserable than she that has a son 
And sees him err : nor would we work for fame ; 
Tho' she perhaps might reap the applause of 


Who learns the one POU sto whence after-hands 

May move the world, tho' she herself effect 

But little : wherefore up and act, nor shrink 

For fear our solid aim be dissipated 

By frail successors. Would, indeed, we had been, 

In lieu of many mortal flies, a race 

Of giants living, each, a thousand years, 

That we might see our own work out, and watch 

The sandy footprint harden into stone.'' 

I answered nothing, doubtful in myself 
If that strange Poet-princess with her grand 
Imaginations might at all be won. 
And she broke out interpreting my thoughts : 

"No doubt we seem a kind of monster to you ; 
We are used to that : for women, up till this 
Cramped under worse than South-sea-isle taboo. 
Dwarfs of the gyna^ceum, fail so far 
In high desire, they know not, cannot guess 


How much their welfare is a passion to us. 

If we could give them surer, quicker proof — 

Oh if our end were less achievable 

By slow approaches, than by single act 

Of immolation, any phase of death, 

We were as prompt to spring against the pikes. 

Or down the fiery gulf as talk of it, 

To compass our dear sisters' liberties.'^ 

She bow'd as if to veil a noble tear ; 
And up we came to where the river sloped 
To plunge in cataract, shattering on black 

A breadth of thunder. O'er it shook the woods. 
And danced the colour, and, below, stuck out 
The bones of some vast bulk that lived and roar'd 
Before man was. She gazed awhile and said, 

As these rude bones to us, are we to her 
That will be." Dare we dream of that," I ask'd, 

Which wrought us, as the workman andhiswork. 


That practice betters ? " " How,'' she cried, " you 

The metaphysics ! read and earn our prize, 
A golden broach : beneath an emerald plane 
Sits Diotima, teaching him that died 
Of hemlock j our device ; wrought to the life ; 
She rapt upon her subject, he on her : 
For there are schools for all.'* " And yet " I said 
" Methinks I have not found among them all 
One anatomic." " Nay, we thought of that," 
She answered, " but it pleased us not : in truth 
We shudder but to dream our maids should ape 
Those monstrous males that carve thelivinghound, 
And cram him with the fragments of the grave, 
Or in the dark dissolving human heart, 
And holy secrets of this microcosm, 
Dabbling a shameless hand with shameful jest, 
Encarnalize their spirits : yet we know 
Knowledge is knowledge, and this matter hangs : 
Howbeit ourself, foreseeing casualty, 


Nor willing men should come among us, learnt, 
For many weary moons before we came, 
This craft of healing. Were you sick, ourself 
Would tend upon you. To your question now, 
Which touches on the workman and his work. 
Let there be light and there was light : 'tis so : 
For was, and is, and will be, are but is ; 
And all creation is one act at once. 
The birth of light : but we that are not all. 
As parts, can see but parts, now this, now that. 
And live, perforce, from thought to thought, and 

One act a phantom of succession : thus 
Our weakness somehow shapes the shadow, 
Time ; 

But in the shadow will we work, and mould 
The woman to the fuller day.'' 

She spake 

With kindled eyes : we rode a league beyond, 
And, o'er a bridge of pinewood crossing, came 


On flowery levels underneath the crag, 
Full of all beauty. " O how sweet " I said 
(For I was half-oblivious of my mask) 
" To Hnger here with one that loved us." " Yea/' 
She answered, " or with fair philosophies 
That lift the fancy ; for indeed these fields 
Are lovely, lovelier not the Elysian lawns, 
Where paced the Demigods of old, and saw 
The soft white vapour streak the crowned towers 
Built to the Sun then, turning to her maids, 
" Pitch our pavilion here upon the sward ; 
Lay out the viands." At the word, they raised 
A tent of satin, elaborately wrought 
With fair Corinna's triumph ; here she stood. 
Engirt with many a florid maiden-cheek. 
The woman-conqueror ; woman-conquer'd there 
The bearded Victor of ten-thousand hymns, 
And all the men mourn'd at his side : but we 
Set forth to climb ; then, climbing, Cyril kept 
With Psyche, with Melissa Florian, I 


With mine affianced. Many a little hand 

Glanced like a touch of sunshine on the rocks, 

Many a light foot shone like a jewel set 

In the dark crag : and then we turned, we wound 

About the cliffs, the copses, out and in, 

Hammering and clinking, chattering stony names 

Of shale and hornblende, rag and trap and tuff. 

Amygdaloid and trachyte, till the Sun 

Grew broader toward his death and fell, and all 

The rosy heights came out above the lawns. 

The splendour falls on castle walls 
And snowy summits old in story : 
The long light shakes across the lakes, 
And the wild cataract leaps in glory. 
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, 
Blow, bugle ; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 

O hark, O hear ! how- thin and clear. 
And thinner, clearer, farther going ! 
O sweet and far from cliff and scar 
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing ! 
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying : 
Blow, bugle ; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying. 

O love, they die in yon rich sky, 

They faint on hill or field or river : 
Our echoes roll from soul to soul. 
And grow for ever and for ever. 
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying, 
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying. 


There sinks the nebulous star we call the Sun, 
If that hypothesis of theirs be sound " 
Said Ida ; "let us down and rest and we 
Down from the lean and wrinkled precipices, 
By every coppice-feather'd chasm and cleft, 
Dropt thro' the ambrosial gloom to where below 
No bigger than a glow-worm shone the tent 
Lamp-lit from the inner. Once she lean'd on me, 
Descending ; once or twice she lent her hand. 
And blissful palpitations in the blood, 
Stirring a sudden transport rose and fell. 

But when we planted level feet, and dipt 
Beneath the satin dome and enter'd in. 
There leaning deep in broider'd down we sank 



Our elbows : on a tripod in the midst 

A fragrant flame rose, and before us glowed 

Fruit, blossom, viand, amber wine, and gold. 

Then she, " Let some one sing to us : lightHer 


The minutes fledged with miusic : " and a maid, 
Of those beside her, smote her harp, and sang. 

^* Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean. 
Tears from the depth of some divine despair 
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, 
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields, 
And thinking of the days that are no more. 

' ' Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail. 
That brings our friends up from the underworld, 
Sad as the last which reddens over one 
That sinks with all we love below the verge ; 
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more. 

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns 
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds 



To dying ears, when unto dying eyes 

The casement slowly grows a glimmering square ; 

So sad,, so strange, the days that are no more. 

'*Dear as remember'd kisses after death, 
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd 
On lips that are for others ; deep as love, 
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret ; 
O Death in Life, the days that are no more." 

She ended with such passion that the tear, 
She sang of, shook and fell, an erring pearl 
Lost in her bosom : but with some disdain 
Answered the Princess, If indeed there haunt 
About the mouldered lodges of the Past 
So sweet a voice and vague, fatal to men, 
Well needs it we should cram our ears with wool 
And so pace by : but thine are fancies hatched 
In silken-folded idleness ; nor is it 
Wiser to weep a true occasion lost, 
But trim our sails, and let old bygones be, 
While down the streams that float us each and all 


To the issue, goes, like glittering bergs of ice, 
Throne after throne, and molten on the waste 
Becomes a cloud : for all things serve their time 
Toward that great year of equal mights and rights, 
Nor would I fight with iron laws, in the end 
Found golden : let the past be past ; let be 
Their cancelFd Babels : tho' the rough kex break 
The starred mosaic, and the beard-blown goat 
H ang on the shaft, and the wild figtree split 
Their monstrous idols, care not while we hear 
A trumpet in the distance pealing news 
Of better, and Hope, a poising eagle, bums 
Above the unrisen morrow : " then to me ; 
" Know you no song of your own land," she said, 
" Not such as moans about the retrospect, 
But deals with the other distance and the hues 
Of promise ; not a death's-head at the wine." 

Then I remember'd one myself had made, 
What time I watch'd the swallow winging south 



From mine own land, part made long since, and 

Now while I sang, and maidenlike as far 
As I could ape their treble, did I sing. 

*'0 Swallow, Swallow, flying, flying South, 
Fly to her, and fall upon her gilded eaves, 
And tell her, tell her, what I tell to thee. 

O tell her. Swallow, thou that knowest each, 
That bright and fierce and fickle is the South, 
And dark and true and tender is the North. 

** O Swallow, Swallow, if I could follow, and light 
Upon her lattice, I would pipe and trill. 
And cheep and twitter twenty million loves. 

*' O were I thou that she might take me in, 
And lay me on her bosom, and her heart 
Would rock the snowy cradle till I died. 

* ' Why lingereth she to clothe her heart with love, 
Delaying as the tender ash delays 
To clothe herself, when all the woods are green ? 



* ^ O tell her, Swallow, that thy brood is flown : 
Say to her, I do but wanton in the South, 

But in the North long since my nest is made. 

O tell her, brief is life but love is long. 
And brief the sun of summer in the North, 
And brief the moon of beauty in the South. 

* * O Swallow, flying from the golden woods, 

Fly to her, and pipe and woo her, and make her mine. 
And tell her, tell her, that I follow thee." 

I ceased, and all the ladies, each at each, 
Like the Ithacensian suitors in old time, 
Stared with great eyes, and laugh'd with alien lips, 
And knew not what they meant ; for still my voice 
Rang false : but smiling "Not for thee," she said, 

O Bulbul, any rose of Gulistan 
Shall burst her veil : marsh-divers, rather, maid. 
Shall croak thee sister, or the meadow-crake 
Grate her harsh kindred in the grass : and this 
A mere love-poem ! O for such, my friend. 
We hold them slight : they mind us of the time 


When we made bricks in Egypt. Knaves are men, 

That lute and flute fantastic tenderness, 

And dress the victim to the offering up. 

And paint the gates of Hell with Paradise, 

And play the slave to gain the tyranny. 

Poor soul ! I had a maid of honour once ; 

She wept her true eyes blind for such a one, 

A rogue of canzonets and serenades. 

I loved her. Peace be with her. She is dead. 

So they blaspheme the muse ! But great is song 

Used to great ends : ourself have often tried 

Valkyrian hymns, or into rhythm have dash'd 

The passion of the prophetess ; for song 

Is duer unto freedom, force and growth 

Of spirit than to junketing and love. 

Love is it ? Would this same mock-love, and this 

Mock- Hymen were laid up hke winter bats, 

Till all men grew to rate us at our worth, 

Not vassals to be beat, nor pretty babes 

To be dandled, no, but living wills, and sphered 


Whole in ourselves and owed to none. Enough ! 
But now to leaven play with profit, you, 
Know you no song, the true growth of your soil, 
That gives the manners of your countrywomen ? " 

She spoke and turned her sumptuous head with 

Of shining expectation fixt on mine. 
Then while I dragg'd my brains for such a song, 
Cyril, with whom the bell-mouth'd glass had 

Or mastered by the sense of sport, began 
To troll a careless, careless tavern-catch 
Of Moll and Meg, and strange experiences 
Unmeet for ladies. Florian nodded at him, 
I frowning ; Psyche flushed and wann'd and 
shook ; 

The lily like Melissa droop' d her brows ; 
"Forbear,'^ the Princess cried ; "Forbear, Sir " I ; 
And heated thro' and thro' with wrath and love, 


I smote him on the breast ; he started up ; 
There rose a shriek as of a city sacked ; 
Melissa clamoured "Flee the death " To horse " 
Said Ida ; " home ! to horse ! and fled, as flies 
A troop of snowy doves athwart the dusk, 
When some one batters at the dovecote-doors, 
Disorderly the women. Alone I stood 
With Florian, cursing Cyril, vext at heart, 
In the pavilion : there like parting hopes 
I heard them passing from me : hoof by hoof. 
And every hoof a knell to my desires, 
Clang'd on the bridge ; and then another shriek, 
" The Head, the Head, the Princess, O the 
Head ! " 

For blind with rage she miss'd the plank, and 

In the river. Out I sprang from glow to gloom : 
There whirl'd her white robe like a blossom'd 

Rapt to the horrible fall : a glance I gave, 


No more; but woman-vested as I was 
Plunged; and the flood drew; yet I caught 

her; then 
Oaring one arm, and bearing in my left 
The weight of all the hopes of half the world, 
Strove to buffet to land in vain. A tree 
Was half-disrooted from his place and stooped 
To drench his dark locks in the gurgling wave 
Mid-channel. Right on this we drove and 


And grasping down the boughs I gained the 

There stood her maidens glimmeringly grouped 
In the hollow bank. One reaching forward drew 
My burthen from mine arms ; they cried " she 
lives : " 

They bore her back into the tent : but I, 

So much a kind of shame within me wrought, 

Not yet endured to meet her opening eyes, 


Nor found my friends ; but pushed alone on foot 
(For since her horse was lost I left her mine) 
Across the woods, and less from Indian craft 
Than beelike instinct hiveward, found at length 
The garden portals. Two great statues, Art 
And Science, Caryatids, lifted up 
A weight of emblem, and betwixt were valves 
Of open-work in which the hunter rued 
His rash intrusion, manlike, but his brows 
Had sprouted, and the branches thereupon 
Spread out at top, and grimly spiked the 

A little space was left between the horns, 
Thro' which I clambered o'er at top with pain, 
Dropt on the sward, and up the linden walks, 
And, tost on thoughts that changed from hue to 

Now poring on the glowworm, now the star, 
I paced the terrace, till the Bear had wheel'd 


Thro' a great arc his seven slow suns. 

A step 

Of lightest echo, then a loftier form 

Than female, moving thro' the uncertain gloom, 

Disturbed me with the doubt "if this were she," 

But it was Florian. " Hist O Hist," he said, 

" They seek us : out so late is out of rules. 

Moreover ^ seize the strangers ' is the cry. 

How came you here ?" I told him : " I " said he, 

" Last of the train, a moral leper, I, 

To whom none spake, half-sick at heart, return'd. 

Arriving all confused among the rest 

With hooded brows I crept into the hall, 

And, couch'd behind a Judith, underneath 

The head of Holof ernes peep'd and saw. 

Girl after girl was calFd to trial : each 

Disclaim'd all knowledge of us : last of all, 

Melissa : trust me. Sir, I pitied her. 

She, questioned if she knew us men, at first 

Was silent ; closer prest, denied it not : 


And then, demanded if her mother knew, 
Or Psyche, she affirm'd not, or denied : 
From whence the Royal mind, famihar with her, 
Easily gathered either guilt. She sent 
For Psyche, but she was not there ; she calFd 
For Psyche's child to cast it from the doors ; 
She sent for Blanche to accuse her face to 
face ; 

And I slipt out : but whither will you now ? 
And where are Psyche, Cyril ? both are fled : 
What, if together ? that were not so well. 
Would rather we had never come ! I dread 
His wildness, and the chances of the dark." 

"And yet," I said, "you wrong him more than I 
That struck him : this is proper to the clown, 
Tho' smock'd, or furr'd and purpled, still the 

To harm the thing that trusts him, and to shame 
That which he says he loves : for Cyril, howe'er 


He deal in frolic, as to-night — the song 

Might have been worse and sinn'd in grosser Hps 

Beyond all pardon — as it is, I hold 

These flashes on the surface are not he. 

He has a solid base of temperament : 

But as the waterhly starts and slides 

Upon the level in little puffs of wind, 

Tho' anchored to the bottom, such is he/' 

Scarce had I ceased when from a tamarisk 

Two Proctors leapt upon us, crying, " Names : 
He, standing still, was clutched ; but I began 
To thrid the musky-circled mazes, wind 
And double in and out the boles, and race 
By all the fountains : fleet I was of foot : 
Before me shower'd the rose in flakes ; behind 
I heard the puffed pursuer ; at mine ear 
Bubbled the nightingale and heeded not, 
And secret laughter tickled all my soul. 


At last I hook'd my ankle in a vine, 

That claspt the feet of a Mnemosyne, 

And falling on my face was caught and known. 

They haled us to the Princess where she sat 
High in the hall : above her drooped a lamp, 
And made the single jewel on her brow 
Burn like the mystic fire on a mast-head, 
Prophet of storm : a handmaid on each side 
Bow^d toward her, combing out her long black 

Damp from the river ; and close behind her stood 
Eight daughters of the plough, stronger than 

Huge women blowzed with health, and wind, and 

And labour. Each was like a Druid rock ; 
Or like a spire of land that stands apart 
Cleft from the main, and wail'd about with 


Then, as we came, the crowd dividing clove 
An advent to the throne : and therebeside, 
Half-naked as if caught at once from bed 
And tumbled on the purple footcloth, lay 
The lily-shining child ; and on the left, 
Bow'd on her palms and folded up from wrong, 
Her round white shoulder shaken with her sobs, 
Melissa knelt ; but Lady Blanche erect 
Stood up and spake, an affluent orator. 

"It was not thus, O Princess, in old days : 
You prized my counsel, lived upon my lips : 
I led you then to all the Castalies ; 
I fed you with the milk of every Muse ; 
I loved you like this kneeler, and you me 
Your second mother : those were gracious times. 
Then came your new friend : you began to 
change — 

I saw it and grieved — to slacken and to cool ; 
Till taken with her seeming openness 


You turn'd your warmer currents all to her, 
To me you froze : this was my meed for all. 
Yet I bore up in part from ancient love, 
And partly that I hoped to win you back, 
And partly conscious of my own deserts, 
And partly that you were my civil head, 
And chiefly you were born for something great, 
In which I might your fellow-worker be. 
When time should serve; and thus a noble 

Grew up from seed we two long since had sown ; 
In us true growth, in her a Jonah's gourd. 
Up in one night and due to sudden sun : 
We took this palace ; but even from the first 
You stood in your own light and darkened 

W^hat student came but that you planed her 

To Lady Psyche, younger, not so wise, 
A foreigner, and I your countrywoman, 


I your old friend and tried, she new in all ? 
But still her Hsts were swelFd and mine were 
lean ; 

Yet I bore up in hope she would be known : 
Then came these wolves : they knew her : they 

Long-closeted with her the yestermorn, 
To tell her what they were, and she to hear : 
And me none told : not less to an eye like mine, 
A lidless watcher of the public weal, 
Last night, their mask was patent, and my foot 
Was to you : but I thought again : I feared 
To meet a cold " We thank you, we shall hear 
of it 

From Lady Psyche : you had gone to her, 
She told, perforce ; and winning easy grace, 
No doubt, for slight delay, remained among us 
In our young nursery still unknown, the stem 
Less grain than touchwood, while my honest 


Were all miscounted as malignant haste 
To push my rival out of place and power. 
But public use required she should be known ; 
And since my oath was ta^en for public use, 
I broke the letter of it to keep the sense. 
I spoke not then at first, but watch'd them well, 
Saw that they kept apart, no mischief done ; 
And yet this day (tho' you should hate me for it) 
I came to tell you ; found that you had gone, 
Ridd'n to the hills, she likewise ; now, I thought. 
That surely she will speak ; if not, then I : 
Did she ? These monsters blazoned what they 

According to the coarseness of their kind, 

For thus I hear ; and known at last (my work) 

And full of cowardice and guilty shame, 

I grant in her some sense of shame, she flies ; 

And I remain on whom to wreak your rage, 

I, that have lent my life to build up yours, 

I that have wasted here health, wealth, and time. 


And talent, I — you know it — I will not boast : 
Dismiss me, and I prophesy your plan, 
Divorced from my experience, will be chaff 
For every gust of chance, and men will say 
We did not know the real light, but chased 
The wisp that flickers where no foot can tread." 

She ceased : the Princess answered coldly, 
Good : 

Your oath is broken : we dismiss you : go. 
For this lost lamb (she pointed to the child) 
Our mind is changed : we take it to ourself." 

Thereat the Lady stretch'd a vulture throat. 
And shot from crooked lips a haggard smile. 
" The plan was mine. I built the nest she said 
" To hatch the cuckoo. Rise ! " and stoop'd to 

Melissa : she, half on her mother propt, 
Half-drooping from her, turned her face, and cast 



A liquid look on Ida, full of prayer, 
Which melted Florian's fancy as she hung, 
A Niobean daughter, one arm out, 
Appealing to the bolts of Heaven ; and while 
We gazed upon her came a little stir 
About the doors, and on a sudden rush'd 
Among us, out of breath, as one pursued, 
A woman-post in flying raiment. Fear 
Stared in her eyes, and chalked her face, and 

Her transit to the throne, whereby she fell 
Delivering seaFd dispatches which the Head 
Took half-amazed, and m her lion's mood 
Tore open, silent we with blind surmise 
Regarding, while she read, till over brow 
And cheek and bosom brake the wrathful bloom 
As of some fire against a stormy cloud, 
When the wild peasant rights himself, the rick 
Flames, and his anger reddens in the heavens ; 
For anger most it seem'd, while now her breast, 


Beaten with some great passion at her heart, 
Palpitated, her hand shook, and we heard 
In the dead hush the papers that she held 
Rustle : at once the lost lamb at her feet 
Sent out a bitter bleating for its dam ; 
The plaintive cryjarr'd on her ire; she crush'd 
The scrolls together, made a sudden turn 
As if to speak, but, utterance failing her, 
She whirFd them on to me, as who should say 
" Read," and I read — two letters — one her sire's. 

" Fair daughter, when we sent the Prince your 

We knew not your ungracious laws, which learnt. 
We, conscious of what temper you are built, 
Came all in haste to hinder wrong, but fell 
Into his father's hands, who has this night, 
You lying close upon his territory, 
Slipt round and in the dark invested you. 
And here he keeps me hostage for his son/' 

A MEDLEY, 103 

The second was my father's running thus : 
" You have our son : touch not a hair of his head : 
Render him up unscathed : give him your hand : 
Cleave to your contract : tho' indeed we hear 
You hold the woman is the better man ; 
A rampant heresy, such as if it spread 
Would make all women kick against their Lords 
Thro' all the world, and which might well deserve 
That we this night should pluck your palace 
down ; 

And we will do it, unless you send us back 
Our son, on the instant, whole." 

So far I read ; 
And then stood up and spoke impetuously. 

" O not to pry and peer on your reserve, 
But led by golden wishes, and a hope 
The child of regal compact, did I break 
Your precinct ; not a scorner of your sex 
But venerator, zealous it should be 


All that it might be : hear me, for I bear, 
Tho' man, yet human^ whatsoe'er your wrongs, 
From the flaxen curl to the gray lock a life 
Less mine than yours : my nurse would tell me 
of you ; 

I babbled for you, as babies for the moon, 
Vague brightness ; when a boy, you stoop'd to me 
From all high places, lived in all fair lights. 
Came in long breezes rapt from inmost south 
And blowTi to inmost north ; at eve and dawn 
With Ida, Ida, Ida, rang the woods ; 
The leader wildswan in among the stars 
Would clang it, and lapt in wreaths of glowworm 

The mellow breaker murmur'd Ida. Now, 
Because I would have reach'd you, had you been 
Sphered up with Cassiopeia, or the enthroned 
Persephone in Hades, now at length, 
Those winters of abeyance all worn out, 
A man I came to see you : but, indeed. 

A MEDLEY. 105 

Not in this frequence can I lend full tongue, 

noble Ida, to those thoughts that wait 
On you, their centre : let me say but this, 
That many a famous man and woman, town 
And landskip, have I heard of, after seen 

The dwarfs of presage : tho' when known, there 

Another kind of beauty in detail 
Made them worth knowing ; but in you I found 
My boyish dream involved and dazzled down 
And mastered, while that after-beauty makes 
Such head from act to act, from hour to hour, 
Within me, that except you slay me here, 
According to your bitter statute-book, 

1 cannot cease to follow you, as they say 
The seal does music ; who desire you more 
Than growing boys their manhood ; dying lips, 
With many thousand matters left to do. 

The breath of life; O more than poor men 


Than sick men health — yours, yours, not mine — 
but half 

Without you ; with you, whole ; and of those 

You worthiest ; and however you block and bar 
Your heart with system out from mine, I hold 
That it becomes no man to nurse despair. 
But in the teeth of clench'd antagonisms 
To follow up the worthiest till he die : 
Yet that I came not all unauthorized 
Behold your father's letter." 

On one knee 
Kneeling, I gave it, which she caught, and dash'd 
Unopen'd at her feet : a tide of fierce 
Invective seem'd to wait behind her lips. 
As waits a river level with the dam 
Ready to burst and flood the world with foam : 
And so she would have spoken, but there rose 
A hubbub in the court of half the maids 
Gathered together : from the illumined hall 

A MEDLEY. 107 

Long lanes of splendour slanted o'er a press 
Of snowy shoulders, thick as herded ewes, 
And rainbow robes, and gems and gemlike eyes, 
And gold and golden heads ; they to and fro 
Fluctuated, as flowers in storm, some red, some 

All open-mouth'd, all gazing to the light. 
Some crying there was an army in the land. 
And some that men were in the very walls, 
And some they cared not ; till a clamour grew 
As of a new-w^orld Babel, woman-built. 
And worse-confounded : high above them stood 
The placid marble Muses, looking peace. 

Not peace she look'd, the Head : but rising up 
Robed in the long night of her deep hair, so 
To the open window moved, remaining there 
Fixt like a beacon-tower above the waves 
Of tempest, when the crimson-rolling eye 
Glares ruin, and the wild birds on the Hght 


Dash themselves dead. She stretch'd her arms 

and calFd 
Across the tumult and the tumult fell. 

" What fear ye, brawlers ? am not I your Head 1 
On me, me, me, the storm first breaks : / dare 
All these male thunderbolts : what is it ye fear 
Peace ! there are those to avenge us and they 
come : 

If not, — myself were like enough, O girls. 
To unfurl the maiden banner of our rights, 
And clad in iron burst the ranks of war, 
Or, falling, protomartyr of our cause, 
Die : yet I blame you not so much for fear ; 
Six thousand years of fear have made you that 
From which I would redeem you : but for those 
That stir this hubbub — you and you — I know 
Your faces there in the crowd — to-morrow morn 
We hold a great convention : then shall they 
That love their voices more than duty, learn 

A MEDLEY, 109 

With whom they deal, dismissed in shame to live 
No wiser than their mothers, household stuff, 
Live chattels, mincers of each other's fame, 
Full of weak poison, turnspits for the clown, 
The drunkard's football, laughing-stocks of Time, 
Whose brains are in their hands and in their heels, 
But fit to flaunt, to dress, to dance, to thrum, 
To tramp, to scream, to burnish, and to scour, 
For ever slaves at home and fools abroad." 

She, ending, waved her hands : thereat the crowd 
Muttering, dissolved: then with a smile, that 

A stroke of cruel sunshine on the cliff. 

When all the glens are drown'd in azure gloom 

Of thunder-shower, she floated to us and said : 

" You have done well and like a gentleman. 
And like a prince : you have our thanks for all : 
And you look well too in your woman's dress : 


Well have you done and like a gentleman. 
You saved our life : we owe you bitter thanks : 
Better have died and spilt our bones in the flood — 
Then men had said — but now — What hinders me 
To take such bloody vengeance on you both ? — 
Yet since our father — Wasps in our good hive, 
You would-be quenchers of the light to be, 
Barbarians, grosser than your native bears — 

would I had his sceptre for one hour ! 

You that have dared to break our bound, and 

Our servants, wrong'd and lied and thwarted us — 
/ wed with thee ! / bound by precontract 
Your bride, your bondslave ! not tho' all the gold 
That veins the world were pack'd to make your 

And every spoken tongue should lord you. Sir, 
Your falsehood and yourself are hateful to us : 

1 trample on your offers and on you : 
Begone : we will not look upon you more. 



Here, push them out at gates." 

In wrath she spake. 
Then those eight mighty daughters of the plough 
Bent their broad faces toward us and address'd 
Their motion : twice I sought to plead my cause, 
But on my shoulder hung their heavy hands, 
The weight of destiny ; so from her face 
They push'd us, down the steps, and thro' the 

And with grim laughter thrust us out at gates. 

We crossed the street and gained a petty mound 
Beyond it, whence we saw the lights and heard 
The voices murmuring. While I listen'd, came 
On a sudden the weird seizure and the doubt : 
I seem'd to move among a world of ghosts ; 
The Princess with her monstrous woman-guard, 
The jest and earnest working side by side. 
The cataract and the tumult and the kings 
Were shadows ; and the long fantastic night 


With all its doings had and had not been, 
And all things were and were not. 

This went by 
As strangely as it came, and on my spirits 
Settled a gentle cloud of melancholy ; 
Not long ; I shook it off ; for spite of doubts 
And sudden ghostly shadowings I was one 
To whom the touch of all mischance but came 
As night to him that sitting on a hill 
Sees the midsummer, midnight, Norway sun 
Set into sunrise ; then we moved away. 

Thy voice is heard thro' rolling drums, 

That beat to battle where he stands ; 
Thy face across his fancy comes, 

And gives the battle to his hands ; 
A moment, while the trumpets blow, 

He sees his brood about thy knee ; 
The next, like fire he meets the foe, 

And strikes him dead for thine and thee. 

So Lilia sang : we thought her half-possess' 
She struck such warbling fury thro' the words; 
And, after, feigning piqtce at what she calVd 
The raillery, or grotesqite, or false subli?ne — 
Like one that wishes at a dance to change 
The music — clapt her hands and cried for war, 
Or some grand fight to kill and make an end : 
And he that next inherited the tale 
Half turning to the broken statue, said, 


" Sir Ralph has got your colours : if I prove 
Your knight^ and fight your battle^ what for me ? 
// chanced^ her empty glove up07i the tomb 
Lay by her like a model of her hand. 
She took it a?td she flung it, " Fight " she said, 
^^And make ns all we would be ^ great and good ^ 
He knightlike in his cap instead of casque^ 
A cap of Tyrol borrowed from the hall, 
Ar?'anged the favour^ and assumed the Prince. 


Now, scarce three paces measured from the 

We stumbled on a stationary voice, 
And " Stand, who goes ? ^' ^' Two from the 
palace" I. 

" The second two : they wait," he said, pass on ; 
His Highness wakes : " and one, that clashed in 

By glimmering lanes and walls of canvas led 
Threading the soldier-city, till we heard 
The drowsy folds of our great ensign shake 
From blazon'd lions o'er the imperial tent 
Whispers of war. 

Entering, the sudden light 
Dazed me half-blind : I stood and seem'd to hear, 


As in a poplar grove when a light wind wakes 
A lisping of the innumerous leaf and dies, 
Each hissing in his neighbours ear ; and then 
A strangled titter, out of which there brake 
On all sides, clamouring etiquette to death, 
Unmeasured mirth ; while now the two old kings 
Began to wag their baldness up and down, 
The fresh young captains flash'd their glittering 

The huge bush-bearded Barons heaved and blew, 
And slain with laughter roll'd the gilded Squire. 

At length my Sire, his rough cheek wet with 

Panted from weary sides " King, you are free ! 
We did but keep you surety for our son. 
If this be he, — or a draggled mawkin, thou, 
That tends her bristled grunters in the sludge : ^' 
For I was drench'd with ooze, and torn with 

A MEDLEY, 117 

More crumpled than a poppy from the sheath, 
And all one rag, disprinced from head to heel. 
Then some one sent beneath his vaulted palm 
A whisper'd jest to some one near him, Look, 
He has been among his shadows/' " Satan take 
The old women and their shadows ! (thus the 

Roar'd) make yourself a man to fight with men. 
Go : Cyril told us all." 

As boys that slink 
From ferule and the trespass-chiding eye, 
Away we stole, and transient in a trice 
From what was left of faded woman-slough 
To sheathing splendours and the golden scale 
Of harness, issued in the sun, that now 
Leapt from the dewy shoulders of the Earth, 
And hit the Northern hills. Here Cyril met us. 
A little shy at first, but by and by 
We twain, with mutual pardon ask'd and given 
For stroke and song, resolder'd peace, whereon 


Followed his tale. Amazed he fled away 
Thro' the dark land, and later in the night 
Had come on Psyche weeping : " then we fell 
Into your father's hand, and there she lies, 
But will not speak, nor stir." 

He show'd a tent 
A stone-shot off : we enter'd in, and there 
Among piled arms and rough accoutrements, 
Pitiful sight, wrapp'd in a soldier's cloak. 
Like some sweet sculpture draped from head to 

And push'd by rude hands from its pedestal, 
All her fair length upon the ground she lay : 
And at her head a follower of the camp, 
A charr'd and wrinkled piece of womanhood, 
Sat watching like a watcher by the dead. 

Then Florian knelt, and Come " he whisper'd 
to her, 

" Lift up your head, sweet sister : lie not thus. 

A MEDLEY, 119 

What have you done but right ? you could not 

Me, nor your prince : look up : be comforted : 
Sweet is it to have done the thing one ought, 
When fairn in darker ways." And likewise I : 
" Be comforted : have I not lost her too, 
In whose least act abides the nameless charm 
That none has else for me ? " She heard, she 

She moaned, a folded voice ; and up she sat, 
And raised the cloak from brows as pale and 

As those that mourn half-shrouded over death 
In deathless marble. " Her," she said, " my 
friend — 

Parted from her — betray'd her cause and mine — 
Where shall I breathe ? why kept ye not your 
faith ? 

O base and bad ! what comfort ? none for me I " 
To whom remorseful Cyril, *^Yet I pray 


Take comfort : live, dear lady, for your child ! " 
At which she lifted up her voice and cried. 

Ah me, my babe, my blossom, ah, my child, 
My one sweet child, whom I shall see no more I 
For now will cruel Ida keep her back ; 
And either she will die from want of care, 
Or sicken with ill-usage, when they say 
The child is hers — for every little fault, 
The child is hers ; and they will beat my girl 
Remembering her mother : O my flower ! 
Or they will take her, they will make her hard, 
And she will pass me by in after-life 
With some cold reverence worse than were she 

Ill mother that I was to leave her there, 
To lag behind, scared by the cry they made, 
The horror of the shame among them all : 
But I will go and sit beside the doors, 
And make a wild petition night and day. 



Until they hate to hear me like a wind 
Wailing for ever, till they open to me, 
And lay my little blossom at my feet. 
My babe, my sweet Aglaia, my one child : 
And I will take her up and go my way. 
And satisfy my soul with kissing her : 
Ah ! what might that man not deserve of me 
Who gave me back my child ? " Be comforted," 
Said Cyril^ " you shall have it : " but again 
She veird her brows, and prone she sank, 
and so 

Like tender things that being caught feign death. 
Spoke not, nor stirred. 

By this a murmur ran 
Thro' all the camp and inward raced the scouts 
With rumour of Prince Arac hard at hand. 
We left her by the woman, and without 
Found the gray kings at parle : and " Look you 

My father " that our compact be fulfill'd : 


You have spoilt this child ; she laughs at you 
and man : 

She wrongs herself, her sex, and me, and him : 
But red-faced war has rods of steel and fire ; 
She yields, or war/' 

Then Gama turn'd to me : 
We fear, indeed, you spent a stormy time 
With our strange girl : and yet they say that still 
You love her. Give us, then, your mind at large : 
How say you, war or not?'' 

" Not war, if possible, 
O king," I said, " lest from the abuse of war, 
The desecrated shrine, the trampled year. 
The smouldering homestead, and the household 

Torn from the lintel — all the common wrong — 
A smoke go up thro' which I loom to her 
Three times a monster : now she lightens scorn 
At him that mars her plan, but then would hate 
(And every voice she talk'd with ratify it, 

A MEDLEY. 123 

And every face she look'd on justify it) 
The general foe. More soluble is this knot, 
By gentleness than war. I want her love. 
What were I nigher this altho' we dash'd 
Your cities into shards with catapults, 
She would not love ; — or brought her chainM, a 

The lifting of whose eyelash is my lord, 
Not ever would she love ; but brooding turn 
The book of scorn, till all my flitting chance 
Were caught within the record of her wrongs, 
And crush'd to death : and rather, Sire, than this 
I would the old God of war himself were dead, 
Forgotten, rusting on his iron hills. 
Rotting on some wild shore with ribs of wreck. 
Or like an old-world mammoth bulk'd in ice. 
Not to be molten out." 

And roughly spake 
My father, " Tut, you know them not, the girls. 
Boy, when I hear you prate I almost think 


That idiot legend credible. Look you, Sir ! 
Man is the hunter ; woman is his game : 
The sleek and shining creatures of the chase. 
We hunt them for the beauty of their skins ; 
They love us for it, and we ride them down. 
Wheedling and siding with them ! Out ! for 
shame ! 

Boy, there's no rose that's half so dear to them 
As he that does the thing they dare not do, 
Breathing and sounding beauteous battle, comes 
With the air of the trumpet round him, and 
leaps in 

Among the women, snares them by the score 
Flatterd and fluster'd, wins, tho' dash'd with 

He reddens what he kisses : thus I won 
Your mother, a good mother, a good wife. 
Worth winning ; but this firebrand — gentleness 
To such as her ! if Cyril spake her true, 
To catch a dragon in a cherry net. 

A MEDLEY, 125 

To trip a tigress with a gossamer, 
Were wisdom to it." 

" Yea but Sire," I cried, 
" Wild natures need wise curbs. The soldier ? 

What dares not Ida do that she should prize 
The soldier ? I beheld her, when she rose 
The yesternight, and storming in extremes. 
Stood for her cause, and flung defiance down 
Gagelike to man, and had not shunn'd the death, 
No, not the soldier^s : yet I hold her, king, 
True woman : but you clash them all in one, 
That have as many differences as we. 
The violet varies from the lily as far 
As oak from elm : one loves the soldier, one 
The silken priest of peace, one this, one that. 
And some unworthily ; their sinless faith, 
A maiden moon that sparkles on a sty, 
Glorifying clown and satyr ; whence they need 
More breadth of culture : is not Ida right ? 


They worth it ? truer to the law within ? 

Severer in the logic of a life ? 

Twice as magnetic to sweet influences 

Of earth and heaven ? and she of whom you speak, 

My mother, looks as whole as some serene 

Creation minted in the golden moods 

Of sovereign artists ; not a thought, a touch, 

But pure as lines of green that streak the white 

Of the first snowdrop's inner leaves ; I say, 

Not like the piebald miscellany, man, 

Bursts of great heart and slips in sensual mire, 

But whole and one : and take them all-in-all. 

Were we ourselves but half as good, as kind. 

As truthful, much that Ida claims as right 

Had ne'er been mooted, but as frankly theirs 

As dues of Nature. To our point : not war : 

Lest I lose all." 

" Nay, nay, you spake but sense " 
Said Gama. " We remember love ourself 
In our sweet youth ; we did not rate him then 

A MEDLEY. 127 

This red-hot iron to be shaped with blows. 
You talk almost like Ida : she can talk; 
And there is something in it as you say : 
But you talk kindlier : we esteem you for it. — 
He seems a gracious and a gallant Prince, 
I would he had our daughter : for the rest, 
Our own detention, why, the causes weighed. 
Fatherly fears — you used us courteously — 
We would do much to gratify your Prince — 
We pardon it ; and for your ingress here 
Upon the skirt and fringe of our fair land, 
You did but come as goblins in the night. 
Nor in the furrow broke the ploughman's head, 
Nor burnt the grange, nor buss'd the milking- 

Nor robb'd the farmer of his bowl of cream : 
But let your Prince (our royal word upon it, 
He comes back safe) ride with us to our hues, 
And speak with Arac : Arac's word is thrice 
As ours with Ida : something may be done — 


I know not what — and ours shall see us friends. 
You, likewise, our late guests, if so you will, 
Follow us : who knows ? we four may build some 

Foursquare to opposition.'^ 

Here he reached 
White hands of farewell to my sire, who growFd 
An answer which, half-muffled in his beard. 
Let so much out as gave us leave to go. 

Then rode we with the old king across the 

Beneath huge trees, a thousand rings of Spring 
In every bole, a song on every spray 
Of birds that piped their Valentines, and woke 
Desire in me to infuse my tale of love 
In the old king s ears, who promised help, and 

All o'er with honey'd answer as we rode ; 
And blossom-fragrant slipt the heavy dews 

A MEDLEY. 129 

Gathered by night and peace, with each light air 
On our maiM heads : but other thoughts than 

Burnt in us, when we saw the embattled squares, 
And squadrons of the Prince, trampling the 

With clamour : for among them rose a cry 
As if to greet the king ; they made a halt ; 
The horses yell'd ; they clashed their arms ; the 

Beat ; merrily-blowing shrill'd the martial fife ; 
And in the blast and bray of the long horn 
And serpent- throated bugle, undulated 
The banner : anon to meet us lightly pranced 
Three captains out; nor ever had I seen 
Such thews of men : the midmost and the highest 
Was Arac : all about his motion clung 
The shadow of his sister, as the beam 
Of the East, that play'd upon them, made them 



Like those three stars of the airy Giant's zone, 
That gUtter burnished by the frosty dark ; 
And as the fiery Sirius alters hue, 
And bickers into red and emerald, shone 
Their morions, washed with morning, as they 

And I that prated peace, when first I heard 
War-music, felt the blind wildbeast of force, 
Whose home is in the sinews of a man, 
Stir in me as to strike : then took the king 
His three broad sons ; with now a wandering hand 
And now a pointed finger, told them all : 
A common light of smiles at our disguise 
Broke from their lips, and, ere the windy jest 
Had laboured down within his ample lungs, 
The genial giant, Arac, rolFd himself 
Thrice in the saddle, then burst out in words. 

" Our land invaded, 'sdeath ! and he himself 

A MEDLEY, 131 

Your captive, yet my father wills not war : 
And, ^sdeath ! myself, what care I, war or no ? 
But then this question of your troth remains : 
And there's a downright honest meaning in her ; 
She flies too high, she flies too high ! and yet 
She ask'd but space and fairplay for her scheme ; 
She prest and prest it on me — I myself, 
What know I of these things ? but, life and soul.! 
I thought her half-right talking of her wrongs ; 
I say she flies too high, 'sdeath ! what of that ? 
I take her for the flower of womankind, 
And so I often told her, right or wrong, 
And, Prince, she can be sweet to those she loves, 
And, right or wi'ong, I care not : this is all, 
I stand upon her side : she made me swear it — 
'Sdeath — and with solemn rites by candle-light — 
Swear by St. something — I forget her name — 
Her that talk'd down the fifty wisest men ; 
She was a princess too; and so I swore. 
Come, this is all ; she will not : waive your claim : 


If not, the foughten field, what else, at once 
Decides it, ^sdeath ! against my father's will.'' 

I lagged in answer loth to render up 
My precontract, and loth by brainless war 
To cleave the rift of difference deeper yet ; 
Till one of those two brothers, half aside 
And fingering at the hair about his lip, 
To prick us on to combat " Like to like ! 
The woman's garment hid the woman's heart." 
A taunt that clench'd his purpose like a blow ! 
For fiery-short was Cyril's counter-scoff, 
And sharp I answer'd, touch'd upon the point 
Where idle boys are cowards to their shame, 
" Decide it here : why not ? we are three to 

Then spake the third " But three to three ? no 
more ? 

No more, and in our noble sister's cause ? 



More, more, for honour : every captain waits 
Hungry for honour, angry for his king. 
More, more, some fifty on a side, that each 
May breathe himself, and quick ! by overthrow 
Of these or those, the question settled die,'' 

" Yea," answered I, " for this wild wreath of air, 
This flake of rainbow flying on the highest 
Foam of men's deeds — this honour, if ye will. 
It needs must be for honour if at all : 
Since, what decision? if we fail, we fail, 
And if we win, we fail : she would not keep 
Her compact." "'Sdeath! but we will send to 

Said Arac, " worthy reasons why she should 
Bide by this issue : let our missive thro'. 
And you shall have her answer by the word." 

" Boys ! " shriek'd the old king, but vainlier 
than a hen 


To her false daughters in the pool ; for none 
Regarded ; neither seem'd there more to say : 
Back rode we to my father^s camp^ and found 
He thrice had sent a herald to the gates, 
To learn if Ida yet would cede our claim, 
Or by denial flush her babbhng wells 
With her own people's life : three times he went : 
The first, he blew and blew, but none appear'd : 
He battered at the doors; none came : the next, 
An awful voice within had warn'd him thence : 
The third, and those eight daughters of the 

Came sallying thro' the gates, and caught his 

And so belabour'd him on rib and cheek 
They made him wild : not less one glance he 

Thro* open doors of Ida stationed there 
Unshaken, clinging to her purpose, firm 
Tho' compassed by two armies and the noise 

A 'MEDLEY. ' 135 

Of arms ; and standing like a stately Pine 
Set in a cataract on an island-crag, 
When storm is on the heights, and right and left 
Sucked from the dark heart of the long hills roll 
The torrents, dash'd to the vale : and yet her will 
Bred will in me to overcome it or fall. 

But when I told the king that I was pledged 
To fight in tourney for my bride, he clashed 
His iron palms together with a cry ; 
Himself would tilt it out among the lads : 
But overborne by all his bearded lords 
With reasons drawn from age and state, perforce 
He yielded, wroth and red, with fierce demur : 
And many a bold knight started up in heat. 
And sware to combat for my claim till death. 

All on this side the palace ran the field 
Flat to the garden-wall : and likewise here. 
Above the garden^s glowing blossom-belts, 


A column'd entry shone and marble stairs, 
And great bronze valves, emboss'd with Tomyris 
And what she did to Cyrus after fight, 
But now fast barr'd : so here upon the flat 
All that long morn the lists were hammered up, 
And all that morn the heralds to and fro, 
With message and defiance, went and came; 
Last, Ida's answer, in a royal hand, 
But shaken here and there, and rolling words 
Oration-like. I kiss'd it and I read. 

" O brother, you have known the pangs we felt, 
What heats of indignation when we heard 
Of those that iron-cramp'd their women's feet ; 
Of lands in which at the altar the poor bride 
Gives her harsh groom for bridal-gift a scourge ; 
Of living hearts that crack within the fire 
Where smoulder their dead despots; and of 
those, — 

Mothers,— that, all prophetic pity, fling 

A MEDLEY. 137 

Their pretty maids in the running flood, and 

The vulture, beak and talon, at the heart 
Made for all noble motion : and I saw 
That equal baseness lived in sleeker times 
With smoother men: the old leaven leaven'd 

Millions of throats would bawl for civil rights, 
No woman named : therefore I set my face 
Against all men, and lived but for mine own. 
Far off from men I built a fold for them : 
I stored it full of rich memorial : 
I fenced it round with gallant institutes, 
And biting laws to scare the beasts of prey 
And prospered ; till a rout of saucy boys 
Brake on us at our books, and marred our peace, 
Masked like our maids, blustering I know not 

Of insolence and love, some pretext held 
Of baby troth, invalid, since my will 


SeaPd not the bond — the striplings ! — for their 
sport ! — 

I tamed my leopards : shall I not tame these ? 
Or you ? or I ? for since you think me touch'd 
In honour — what, I would not aught of false— 
Is not our cause pure ? and whereas I know 
Your prowess, Arac, and what mother's blood 
You draw from, fight ; you failing, I abide 
What end soever : fail you will not. Still 
Take not his life : he risked it for my own ; 
His mother lives : yet whatsoe'er you do, 
Fight and fight well ; strike and strike home. O 

Brothers, the woman's Angel guards you, you 
The sole men to be mingled with our cause, 
The sole men we shall prize in the after-time, 
Your very armour hallow'd, and your statues 
Rear'd, sung to, when, this gad-fly brushed aside, 
We plant a solid foot into the Time, 
And mould a generation strong to move 

A MEDLEY, 139 

With claim on claim from right to right, till she 
Whose name is yoked with children's, know her- 

And Knowledge in our own land make her free, 
And, ever following those two crowned twins, 
Commerce and conquest, shower the fiery grain 
Of freedom broadcast over all that orbs 
Between the Northern and the Southern morn/^ 

Then came a postscript dash'd across the rest. 
" See that there be no traitors in your camp : 
We seem a nest of traitors — none to trust 
Since our arms faiFd — this Egypt-plague of men ! 
Almost our maids vv^ere better at their homes. 
Than thus man-girdled here : indeed I think 
Our chiefest comfort is the little child 
Of one unworthy mother ; which she left : 
She shall not have it back : the child shall grow 
To prize the authentic mother of her mind. 
I took it for an hour in mine own bed 


This morning : there the tender orphan hands 
Felt at my heart, and seem'd to charm from 

The wrath I nursed against the world : farewell." 

I ceased ; he said, *^ Stubborn, but she may sit 
Upon a king's right hand in thunder-storms, 
And breed up warriors ! See now, tho* yourself 
Be dazzled by the wildfire Love to sloughs 
That swallow common sense, the spindling king, 
This Gama swamp'd in lazy tolerance. 
When the man wants weight, the woman takes 
it up, 

And topples down the scales ; but this is fixt 
As are the roots of earth and base of all ; 
Man for the field and woman for the hearth : 
Man for the sword and for the needle she : 
Man with the head and woman with the heart : 
Man to command and woman to obey ; 
All else confusion. Look you ! the gray mare 


Is ill to live with, when her whinny shrills 
From tile to scullei-y, and her small goodman 
Shrinks in his arm-chair while the fires of Hell 
Mix with his hearth ; but you^ — she's yet a colt — 
Take, break her : strongly groomed and straitly 

She might not rank with those detestable 
That let the bantling scald at home, and brawl 
Their rights or wrongs like potherbs in the street. 
They say she's comely ; there's the fairer chance : 
/ like her none the less for rating at her ! 
Besides, the woman wed is not as we, 
But suffers change of frame. A lusty brace 
Of twins may weed her of her folly. Boy, 
The bearing and the training of a child 
Is woman's wisdom." 

Thus the hard old king : 
I took my leave, for it was nearly noon : 
I pored upon her letter which I held. 
And on the little clause " take not his life : " 



I mused on that wild morning in the woods, 
And on the " Follow, follow, thou shalt win : 
I thought on all the wrathful king had said, 
And how the strange betrothment was to end : 
Then I remembered that burnt sorcerer's curse 
That one should fight with shadows and should 
fall ; 

And like a flash the weird affection came : 
King, camp and college turn'd to hollow shows ; 
I seem'd to move in old memorial tilts, 
And doing battle with forgotten ghosts, 
To dream myself the shadow of a dream : 
And ere I woke it was the point of noon, 
The lists were ready. Empanoplied and plumed 
We enter'd in, and waited, fifty there 
Opposed to fifty, till the trumpet blared 
At the barrier like a wild horn in a land 
Of echoes, and a moment, and once more 
The trumpet, and again : at which the storm 
Of galloping hoofs bare on the ridge of spears 

A MEDLEY, 143 

And riders front to front, until they closed 
In conflict with the crash of shivering points, 
And thunder. Yet it seem'd a dream, I dream'd 
Of fighting. On his haunches rose the steed. 
And into fiery splinters leapt the lance. 
And out of stricken helmets sprang the fire. 
Part sat like rocks : part reel'd but kept their 
seats : 

Part roird on the earth and rose again and drew : 
Part stumbled mixt with floundering horses. 

I V From those two bulks at Arac's side, and down 

From Arac's arm, as from a giant's flail, 
^ The large blows rain'd, as here and everywhere 
' He rode the mellay, lord of the ringing lists, 
And all the plain, — brand, mace, and shaft, and 
shield — 

Shocked, like an iron-clanging anvil bang'^ 
With hammers ; till I thought, can this be he 
From Gama's dwarfish loins ? if this be so, 


The mother makes us most — and in my dream 
I glanced aside, and saw the palace-front 
Alive with fluttering scarfs and ladies' eyes, 
And highest, among the statues^ statuelike, 
Between a cymbaFd Miriam and a Jael, 
With Psyche's babe, was Ida watching us, 
A single band of gold about her hair, 
Like a Saint's glory up in heaven : but she 
No saint — inexorable — ^no tenderness — 
Too hard, too cruel : yet she sees me fight, 
Yea, let her see me fall ! with that I drave 
Among the thickest and bore down a Prince, 
And Cyril, one. Yea, let me make my dream 
All that I would. But that large-moulded man, 
His visage all agrin as at a wake, 
Made at me thro' the press, and, staggering back 
With stroke on stroke the horse and horseman, 

As comes a pillar of electric cloud, 
Flaying the roofs and sucking up the drains, 

A MEDLEY, 145 

And shadowing dowoi the champain till it strikes 
On a wood, and takes, and breaks, and cracks, 

and splits, 

And twists the grain with such a roar that Earth 
Reels, and the herdsmen cry; for everything 
Gave way before him : only Florian, he 
That loved me closer than his own right eye, 
Thrust in between ; but Arac rode him down : 
And Cyril seeing it, pushed against the Prince, 
With Psyche's colour round his helmet, tough, 
Strong, supple, sinew- corded, apt at arms ; 
But tougher, heavier, stronger, he that smote 
And threw him : last I spurred ; I felt my veins 
Stretch with fierce heat ; a moment hand to 

And sword to sword, and horse to horse we hung, 
Till I struck out and shouted ; the blade glanced, 
I did but shear a feather, and dream and truth 
Flowed from me ; darkness closed me ; and I fell. 


Home they brought her warrior dead 
She nor swoon'd, nor utter'd cry : 

All her maidens, watching, said, 
**She must weep or she will die." 

Then they praised him, soft and low, 
Call'd him worthy to be loved, 

Truest friend and noblest foe ; 
Yet she neither spoke nor moved. 

Stole a maiden from her place, 
Lightly to the warrior stept. 

Took the face-cloth from the face ; 
Yet she neither moved nor wept. 

Rose a nurse of ninety years, 

Set his child upon her knee — 
Like summer tempest came her tears- 
Sweet my child, I live for thee." 


My dream had never died or lived again. 
As in some mystic middle state I lay ; 
Seeing I saw not, hearing not I heard : 
Tho', if I saw not, yet they told me all 
So often that I speak as having seen. 

For so it seem'd, or so they said to me, 
That all things grew more tragic and more 
strange ; 

That when our side was vanquish'd and my cause 
For ever lost, there went up a great cry. 
The Prince is slain. My father heard and ran 
In on the lists, and there unlaced my casque 
And groveird on my body, and after him 
Came Psyche, sorrowing for Aglaia. 


But high upon the palace Ida stood 
With Psyche's babe in arm : there on the roofs 
Like that great dame of Lapidoth she sang. 

Our enemies have fall'n, have fall'n : the seed. 
The Httle seed they laugh'd at in the dark, 
Has risen and cleft the soil, and grown a bulk 
Of spanless girth, that lays on every side 
A thousand arms and rushes to the Sun. 

" Our enemies have fall'n, have falFn : they came ; 
The leaves were wet with women's tears : they heard 
A noise of songs they would not understand : 
They mark'd it with the red cross to the fall, 
And w^ould have strown it, and are fall'n themselves. 

Our enemies have fall'n, have fall'n : they came, 
The woodmen with their axes : lo the tree ! 
But we will make it faggots for the hearth. 
And shape it plank and beam for roof and floor. 
And boats and bridges for the use of men. 

Our enemies have fall'n, have fall'n : they struck ; 
With their own blows they hurt themselves, nor knew 
There dwelt an iron nature in the grain : 


The glittering axe was broken in their arms, 
Their arms were shatter'd to the shoulder blade. 

**Our enemies have fall'n, but this shall grow 
A night of Summer from the heat, a breadth 
Of Autumn, dropping fruits of power : and roll'd 
With music in the growing breeze of Time, 
The tops shall strike from star to star, the fangs 
Shall move the stony bases of the w^orld. 

" And now, O maids, behold our sanctuary 
Is violate, our laws broken : fear we not 
To break them more in their behoof, whose arms 
Championed our cause and won it with a day 
Blanched in our annals, and perpetual feast, 
When dames and heroines of the golden year 
Shall strip a hundred hollows bare of Spring, 
To rain an April of ovation round 
Their statues, borne aloft, the three : but come. 
We will be liberal, since our rights are won. 
Let them not lie in the tents with coarse man- 


111 nurses ; but descend, and proffer these 
The brethren of our blood and cause, that there 
Lie bruised and maim'd, the tender ministries 
Of female hands and hospitality." 

She spoke, and with the babe yet in her arms. 
Descending, burst the great bronze valves, and led 
A hundred maids in train across the Park. 
Some cowFd, and some bare-headed, on they came, 
Their feet in flowers, her loveliest : by them went 
The enamoured air sighing, and on their curls 
From the high tree the blossom wavering fell, 
And over them the tremulous isles of light 
Slided, they moving under shade : but Blanche 
At distance followed : so they came : anon 
Thro' open field into the lists they wound 
Timorously ; and as the leader of the herd 
That holds a stately fretwork to the Sun, 
And followed up by a hundred airy does> 
Steps with a tender foot, light as on air. 

A MEDLEY. 153 

The lovely, lordly creature floated on 
To where her wounded brethren lay; there stay'd; 
Knelt on one knee, — the child on one, — and prest 
Their hands, and calFd them dear deliverers, 
And happy warriors, and immortal names, 
And said "You shall not lie in the tents but here, 
And nursed by those for whom you fought, and 

With female hands and hospitality." 

Then, whether moved by this, or was it chance, 
She past my way. Up started from my side 
The old lion, glaring with his whelpless eye, 
Silent ; but when she saw me lying stark, 
Dishelm'd and mute, and motionlessly pale, 
Cold ev'n to her, she sigh'd ; and when she saw 
The haggard father's face and reverend beard 
Of grisly twine, all dabbled with the blood 
Of his own son, shuddered, a twitch of pain 
Tortured her mouth, and o'er her forehead past 


A shadow, and her hue changed, and she said : 
"He saved my life : my brother slew him for it.'* 
No more : at which the king in bitter scorn 
Drew from my neck the painting and the tress, 
And held them up : she saw them, and a day 
Rose from the distance on her memory, 
When the good Queen, her mother, shore the 

With kisses, ere the days of Lady Blanche : 
And then once more she look'd at my pale face : 
Till understanding all the foolish work 
Of Fancy, and the bitter close of all. 
Her iron will was broken in her mind ; 
Her noble heart was molten in her breast; 
She bow'd, she set the child on the earth ; she 

A feeling finger on my brows, and presently 
" O Sire," she said, " he lives : he is not dead : 
O let me have him with my brethren here 
In our own palace: we will tend on him 


Like one of these ; if so, by any means, 
To lighten this great clog of thanks, that 

Our progress falter to the woman's goal." 

She said : but at the happy word " he lives 
My father stoop'd, re-father'd o'er my wounds. 
So those two foes above my fallen life, 
With brow to brow like night and evening mixt 
Their dark and gray, while Psyche ever stole 
A little nearer, till the babe that by us, 
Half-lapt in glowing gauze and golden brede. 
Lay like a new-falFn meteor on the grass, 
Uncared for, spied its mother and began 
A blind and babbling laughter, and to dance 
Its body, and reach its fatling innocent arms 
And lazy lingering fingers. She the appeal 
Brook'd not, but clamouring out Mine — mine — 
not yours. 

It is not yours, but mine : give me the child " 


Ceased all on tremble : piteous was the cry : 
So stood the unhappy mother open-mouth'd, 
And turn'd each face her way : wan was her 

With hollow watch, her blooming mantle torn, 
Red grief and mother's hunger in her eye, 
And down dead-heavy sank her curls, and half 
The sacred mother's bosom, panting, burst 
The laces toward her babe ; but she nor cared 
Nor knew it, clamouring on, till Ida heard, 
Look'd up, and rising slowly from me, stood 
Erect and silent, striking with her glance 
The mother, me, the child ; but he that lay 
Beside us, Cyril, batter'd as he was, 
Traird himself up on one knee : then he drew 
Her robe to meet his lips, and down she 

At the arm'd man sideways, pitying as it seem'd, 
Or self-involved ; but when she learnt his face. 
Remembering his ill-omen'd song, arose 

A MEDLEY. 157 

Once more thro' all her height, and o'er him 

Tall as a figure lengthen'd on the sand 
When the tide ebbs in sunshine, and he said : 

" O fair and strong and terrible ! Lioness 
That with your long locks play the Lion's mane ! 
But Love and Nature, these are two more terrible 
And stronger. See, your foot is on our necks, 
We vanquish'd, you the Victor of your will. 
What would you more ? give her the child ! 

Orb'd in your isolation : he is dead, 
Or all as dead : henceforth we let you be : 
Win you the hearts of women ; and beware 
Lest, where you seek the common love of these, 
The common hate with the revolving wheel 
Should drag you down, and some great Nemesis 
Break from a darken'd future, crown'd with 


And tread you out for ever : but howsoever 
Fix'd in yourself, never in your own arms 
To hold your own, deny not hers to her, 
Give her the child ! O if, I say, you keep 
One pulse that beats true woman, if you loved 
The breast that fed or arm that dandled you, 
Or own one port of sense not flint to prayer, 
Give her the child ! or if you scorn to lay it, 
Yourself, in hands so lately claspt with yours, 
Or speak to her, your dearest, her one fault 
The tenderness, not yours, that could not kill, 
Give me\\.\ I will give it her." 

He said : 

At first her eye with slow dilation rolFd 
Dry flame, she listening ; after sank and sank 
And, into mournful twilight mellowing, dwelt 
Full on the child; she took it : " Pretty bud ! 
Lily of the vale ! half open'd bell of the woods ! 
Sole comfort of my dark hour, when a world 
Of traitorous friend and broken system made 

A MEDLEY. 159 

No purple in the distance, mystery, 
Pledge of a love not to be mine, farewell ; 
These men are hard upon us as of old, 
We two must part : and yet how fain was I 
To dream thy cause embraced in mine, to think 
I might be something to thee, when I felt 
Thy helpless warmth about my barren breast 
In the dead prime : but may thy mother prove 
As true to thee as false, false, false to me ! 
And, if thou needs must bear the yoke, I wish it 
Gentle as freedom — here she kissed it : then — 
" All good go with thee ! take it Sir," and so 
Laid the soft babe in his hard-mailed hands, 
Who turn'd half-round to Psyche as she sprang 
To meet it, with an eye that swum in thanks ; 
Then felt it sound and whole from head to foot, 
And hugged and never hugged it close enough, 
And in her hunger mouth'd and mumbled it, 
And hid her bosom with it ; after that 
Put on more calm and added suppliantly : 


" We two were friends : I go to mine own 

For ever : find some other : as for me 
I scarce am fit for your great plans : yet speak 
to me, 

Say one soft word and let me part forgiven." 

But Ida spoke not, rapt upon the child. 
Then Arac. " Ida — 'sdeath ! you blame the 
man ; 

You wrong yourselves — the woman is so hard 
Upon the woman. Come, a grace to me ! 
I am your warrior : I and mine have fought 
Your battle : kiss her ; take her hand, she weeps : 
'Sdeath ! I would sooner fight thrice o'er than 
see it." 

But Ida spoke not, gazing on the ground, 
And reddening in the furrows of his chin, 
And moved beyond his custom, Gama said : 



" Tve heard that there is iron in the bloody 
And I beheve it. Not one word ? not one ? 
Whence drew you this steel temper ? not from 

Not from your mother, now a saint with saints. 
She said you had a heart — I heard her say it — 
' Our Ida has a heart' — just ere she died — 
' But see that some one with authority 
Be near her still ' and I — I sought for one — 
All people said she had authority — 
The lady Blanche : much profit ! Not one w^ord ; 
No ! tho' your father sues : see how you stand 
Stiff as Lot's wife, and all the good knights 

I trust that there is no one hurt to death, 
For your wild whim : and was it then for this, 
Was it for this we gave our palace up, 
Where we withdrew from summer heats and state 
And had our wine and chess beneath the planes. 
And many a pleasant hour with her that's gone, 


Ere you were born to vex us ? Is it kind ? 
Speak to her I say : is this not she of whom, 
When first she came, all flushed you said to me 
Now had you got a friend of your own age, 
Now could you share your thought ; now should 
men see 

Two women faster welded in one love 
Than pairs of wedlock; she you walk'd with, 

You talked with, whole nights long, up in the 

Of sine and arc, spheroid and azimuth, 
And right ascension, Heaven knows what ; and 

A word, but one, one little kindly word, 
Not one to spare her : out upon you, flint ! 
You love nor her, nor me, nor any ; nay. 
You shame your mother's judgment too. Not 

You will not ? well — no heart have you, or such 

A 'medley, 163 

As fancies like the vermin in a nut 

Have fretted all to dust and bitterness/' 

So said the small king moved beyond his wont. 

But Ida stood nor spoke, drained of her force 
By many a varying influence and so long. 
Down thro' her limbs a drooping languor wept : 
Her head a little bent ; and on her mouth 
A doubtful smile dwelt like a clouded moon 
In a still water : then brake out my sire, 
Lifting his grim head from my wounds. " O you , 
Woman, whom we thought woman even now, 
And were half fool'd to let you tend our son, 
Because he might have wished it — but we see 
The accomplice of your madness unforgiven, 
And think that you might mix his draught with 

When your skies change again : the rougher 

Is safer : on to the tents : take up the Prince.'' 


He rose, and while each ear was prick'd to 

A tempest, thro' the cloud that dimm'd her broke 
A genial warmth and light once more, and shone 
Thro' glittering drops on her sad friend. 

" Come hither. 

Psyche," she cried out, " embrace me, come, 
Quick while I melt ; make reconcilement sure 
With one that cannot keep her mind an hour : 
Come to the hollow heart they slander so ! 
Kiss and be friends, like children being chid ! 
/ seem no more : / want forgiveness too : 

1 should have had to do with none but maids. 
That have no links with men. Ah false but dear. 
Dear traitor, too much loved, why 1 — why ? — Yet 


Before these kings we embrace you yet once 

With all forgiveness, all oblivion. 
And trust, not love, you less. 

A MEDLEY, 165 

And now, O sire, 
Grant me your son, to nurse, to wait upon him. 
Like mine own brother. For my debt to him, 
This nightmare weight of gratitude, I know it ; 
Taunt m.e no more : yourself and yours shall have 
Free adit ; we will scatter a.11 our maids 
Till happier times each to her proper hearth : 
\Vhat use to keep them here — now? grant my 

Help, father, brother, help ; speak to the king : 
Thaw this male nature to some touch of that 
Which kills me with myself, and drags me 

From my fixt height to mob me up with all 
The soft and milky rabble of womankind, 
Poor weakling ev'n as they are." 

Passionate tears 
Followed : the king replied not : Cyril said : 
" Your brother, Lady, — Florian, — ask for him 
Of your great head — for he is wounded too — 


That you may tend upon him with the prince." 
"Ay so," said Ida with a bitter smile, 
" Our laws are broken : let him enter too." 
Then Violet, she that sang the mournful song. 
And had a cousin tumbled on the plain, 
Petitioned too for him. " Ay so," she said, 
" I stagger in the stream : I cannot keep 
My heart an eddy from the brawling hour : 
We break our laws with ease, but let it be." 
"Ay so ? " said Blanche : " Amazed am I to hear 
Your Highness : but your Highness breaks with 

The law your Highness did not make : 'twas I. 
I had been wedded wife, I knew mankind, 
And blocked them out ; but these men came to 

Your Highness — verily I think to win." 

So she, and turn'd askance a wintry eye 
But Ida with a voice, that like a bell 



TolPd by an earthquake in a trembling tower, 
Rang ruin, answer'd full of grief and scorn. 

" Fling our doors wide ! all, all, not one, but all, 
Not only he, but by my mother's soul, 
Whatever man lies wounded, friend or foe, 
Shall enter, if he will. Let our girls flit, 
Till the storm die ! but had you stood by us, 
The roar that breaks the Pharos from his base 
Had left us rock. She fain would sting us too, 
But shall not. Pass, and mingle with your likes. 
We brook no further insult but are gone." 

• She turned ; the very nape of her white neck 
Was rosed with indignation : but the Prince 
Her brother came ; the king her father charmed 
Her wounded soul with words : nor did mine own 
Refuse her proffer, lastly gave his hand. 

Then us they lifted up, dead weights, and bare 
Straight to the doors : to them the doors gave way 


Groaning, and in the Vestal entry shriek'd 
The virgin marble under iron heels : 
And on they moved and gain'd the hall, and there 
Rested : but great the crush was, and each base, 
To left and right, of those tall columns drown'd 
In silken fluctuation and the swarm 
Of female whisperers : at the further end 
Was Ida by the throne, the two great cats 
Close by her, like supporters on a shield, 
Bow-back'd with fear : but in the centre stood 
The common men with rolling eyes ; amazed 
They glared upon the women, and aghast 
The women stared at these, all silent, save 
When armour clash'd or jingled, while the day. 
Descending, struck athwart the hall, and shot 
A flying splendour out of brass and steel. 
That o'er the statues leapt from head to head. 
Now fired an angry Pallas on the helm, 
Now set a wrathful Dianas moon on flame, 
And now and then an echo started up, 

A MEDLEY. 169 

And shuddering fled from room to room, and died 
Of fright in far apartments. 

Then the voice 
Of Ida sounded, issuing ordinance : 
And me they bore up the broad stairs, and thro' 
The long-laid galleries past a hundred doors 
To one deep chamber shut from sound, and due 
To languid limbs and sickness ; left me in it ; 
And others otherwhere they laid ; and all 
That afternoon a sound arose of hoof 
And chariot, many a maiden passing home 
Till happier times ; but some were left of those 
Held sagest, and the great lords out and in, 
From those two hosts that lay beside the walls, 
Walk'd at their will, and everything was changed. 

Ask me no more : the moon may draw the sea ; 
The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape, 
With fold to fold, of mountain or of cape ; 

But O too fond, when have I answer'd thee ? 

Ask me no more. 

Ask me no more : what answer should I give ? 
I love not hollow cheek or faded eye : 
Yet, O my friend, I will not have thee die ! 

Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live ; 

Ask me no more. 

Ask me no more : thy fate and mine are seal'd : 
I strove against the stream and all in vain ; 
Let the great river take me to the main : 

No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield ; 

Ask me no more. 


So was their sanctuary violated, 
So their fair college turned to hospital ; 
At first with all confusion : by and bye 
Sweet order lived again with other laws : 
A kindlier influence reign'd ; and everywhere 
Low voices with the ministering hand 
Hung round the sick : the maidens came, they 

They sang, they read : till she not fair began 
To gather light, and she that was, became 
Her former beauty treble ; and to and fro 
With books, with flowers, with Angel offices, 
Like creatures native unto gracious act. 
And in their own clear element, they moved. 


But sadness on the soul of Ida fell, 
And hatred of her weakness, blent with shame. 
Old studies faiPd ; seldom she spoke : but oft 
Clomb to the roofs, and gazed alone for hours 
On that disastrous leaguer, swarms of men 
Darkening her female field : void was her use, 
And she as one that climbs a peak to gaze 
O'er land and main, and sees a great black cloud 
Drag inward from the deeps, a wall of night. 
Blot out the slope of sea from verge to shore. 
And suck the blinding splendour from the sand, 
And quenching lake by lake and tarn by tarn 
Expunge the world : so fared she gazing there ; 
So blackened all her world in secret, blank 
And waste it seem'd and vain ; till down she 

And found fair peace once more among the sick. 

And twilight dawn'd ; and morn by morn the 

A MEDLEY, i75 

Shot up and shrill'd in flickering g>Tes, but I 
Lay silent in the muffled cage of Hfe : 
And twilight gloom'd ; and broader-grown the 

Drew the great night into themselves, and Heaven, 
Star after star, arose and fell ; but I, 
Deeper than those weird doubts could reach me, 

Quite sundered from the moving Universe, 
Nor knew what eye was on me, nor the hand 
That nursed me, more than infants in their sleep. 

But Psyche tended Florian : with her oft, 
Melissa came ; for Blanche had gone, but left 
Her child among us, willing she should keep 
Court-favour : here and there the small bright 

A light of heahng, glanced about the couch, 
Or thro' the parted silks the tender face 
Peep'd, shining in upon the wounded man 


With blush and smile, a medicine in themselves 
To wile the length from languorous hours, and 

The sting from pain ; nor seemed it strange that 

He rose up whole, and those fair charities 
Join'd at her side ; nor stranger seem'd that 

So gentle, so employ'd, should close in love, 
Than when two dewdrops on the petal shake 
To the same sweet air, and tremble deeper down, 
And slip at once all-fragrant into one. 

Less prosperously the second suit obtained 
At first with Psyche. Not tho' Blanche had 

That after that dark night among the fields 
She needs must wed him for her own good name ; 
Not tho' he built upon the babe restored ; 
Nor tho' she liked him, yielded she, but feared 

A 'medley, 177 

To incense the Head once more ; till on a day 
When Cyril pleaded, Ida came behind 
Seen but of Psyche : on her foot she hung 
A moment, and she heard, at which her face 
A little flushed, and she past on ; but each 
Assumed from thence a half-consent involved 
In stillness, plighted troth, and were at peace. 

Nor only these : Love in the sacred halls 
Held carnival at will, and flying struck 
With showers of random sweet on maid and man. 
Nor did her father cease to press my claim, 
Nor did mine own now reconciled ; nor yet 
Did those twin brothers, risen again and whole ; 
Nor Arac, satiate with his victory. 

But I lay still, and with me oft she sat : 
Then came a change ; for sometimes I would 

Her hand in wild delirium, gripe it hard, 


And fling it like a viper off, and shriek 
"You are not Ida;" clasp it once again, 
And call her Ida, tho' I knew her not, 
And call her sweet, as if in irony. 
And call her hard and cold which seemed a truth: 
And still she fear'd that I should lose my mind, 
And often she believed that I should die : 
Till out of long frustration of her care, 
And pensive tendance in the all-weary noons, 
And watches in the dead, the dark, when clocks 
Throbb'd thunder thro' the palace floors, or calFd 
On flying Time from all their silver tongues — 
And out of memories of her kindlier days. 
And sidelong glances at my father^s grief, 
And at the happy lovers heart in heart — 
And out of hauntings of my spoken love. 
And lonely listenings to my muttered dream, 
And often feeling of the helpless hands, 
And wordless broodings on the wasted cheek — 
From all a closer interest flourished up. 


Tenderness touch by touch, and last, to these, 
Love, like an Alpine harebell hung with tears 
By some cold morning glacier; frail at first 
And feeble, all unconscious of itself, 
But such as gather'd colour day by day. 

Last I woke sane, but well-nigh close to death 
For weakness : it was evening : silent light 
Slept on the painted walls, wherein were wrought 
Two grand designs ; for on one side arose 
The women up in wild revolt, and stormed 
At the Oppian law. Titanic shapes, they crarnm'd 
The forum, and half-crush'd among the rest 
A dw^arf-like Cato cowered. On the other side 
Hortensia spoke against the tax; behind, 
A train of dames : by axe and eagle sat. 
With all their foreheads drawn in Roman scowls, 
And half the wolf's-milk curdled in their veins, 
The fierce triumvirs ; and before them paused 
Hortensia, pleading : angry was her face. 


I saw the forms : I knew not where I was : 
They did but look Hke hollow shows ; nor more 
Sweet Ida : palm to palm she sat : the dew 
Dwelt in her eyes, and softer all her shape 
And rounder seem'd : I moved : I sigh'd : a touch 
Came round my wrist, and tears upon my hand : 
Then all for languor and self-pity ran 
Mine down my face, and with what life I had, 
And like a flower that cannot all unfold. 
So drenched it is with tempest, to the sun, 
Yet, as it may, turns toward him, I on her 
Fixt my faint eyes, and utter'd whisperingly : 

"If you be, what I think you, some sweet 

I would but ask you to fulfil yourself: 

But if you be that Ida whom I knew, 

I ask you nothing : only, if a dream, 

Sweet dream, be perfect. I shall die to-night. 

Stoop down and seem to kiss me ere I die/' 

A MEDLEY. i8i 

I could no more, but lay like one in trance, 
That hears his burial talk'd of by his friends, 
And cannot speak, nor move, nor make one sign, 
But lies and dreads his doom. She turned ; she 
paused ; 

She stoop'd ; and out of languor leapt a cry ; 

Leapt fiery Passion from the brinks of death ; 

And I believed that in the living world 

My spirit closed with Ida's at the lips ; 

Till back I fell, and from mine arms she rose 

Glowing all over noble shame ; and all 

Her falser self slipt from her like a robe, 

And left her woman, lovelier in her mood 

Than in her mould that other, when she came 

From barren deeps to conquer all with love ; 

And down the streaming crystal dropt ; and she 

Far-fleeted by the purple island-sides, 

Naked, a double light in air and wave, 

To meet her Graces, where they deck'd her out 

For worship without end ; nor end of mine, 


Stateliest, for thee! but mute she glided forth, 
Nor glanced behind her, and I sank and slept, 
Fill'd thro' and tliro^ with Love, a happy sleep. 

Deep in the night I woke : she, near me, held 
A volume of the Poets of her land : 
There to herself, all in low tones, she read. 

" Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white ; 
Nor waves the cypress in the palace walk ; 
Nor winks the gold fin in the porphyry font : 
The fire-fly wakens : waken thou with me. 

Now droops the milkwhite peacock like a ghost^ 
And like a ghost she glimmers on to me. 

Now lies the Earth all Danae to the stars. 
And all thy heart lies open unto me. 

Now slides the silent meteor on, and leaves 
A shining fiirrow, as thy thoughts in me. 

Now folds the lily all her sweetness up. 
And slips into the bosom of the lake : 



So fold thyself, my dearest, thou, and slip 
Into my bosom and be lost in me." 

I heard her turn the page ; she found a small 
Sweet Idyl, and once more, as low, she read : 

**Come down, O maid, from yonder mountain 
height : 

What pleasure lives in height (the shepherd sang) 
In height and cold, the splendour of the hills? 
But cease to move so near the Heavens, and cease 
To glide a sunbeam by the blasted Pine, 
To sit a star upon the sparkling spire ; 
And come, for Love is of the valley, come, 
For Love is of the valley, come thou down 
And find him ; by the happy threshold, he, 
Or hand in hand with Plenty in the maize, 
Or red with spirted purple of the vats, 
Or foxlike in the vine ; nor cares to walk 
With Death and Morning on the silver horns, 
Nor wilt thou snare him in the white ravine. 
Nor find him dropt upon the firths of ice, 
That huddling slant in furrow-cloven falls 
To roll the torrent out of dusky doors : 
But follow ; let the torrent dance thee down 
To find him in the valley ; let the wild 



Lean-headed Eagles yelp alone, and leave 

The monstrous ledges there to slope, and spill 

Their thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke. 

That like a broken purpose waste in air : 

So waste not thou ; but come ; for all the vales 

Await thee ; aztire pillars of the hearth 

Arise to thee ; the children call, and I 

Thy shepherd pipe, and sweet is every sound. 

Sweeter thy voice, but every sound is sweet ; 

Myriads of rivulets hurrying thro' the lawn, 

The moan of doves in immemorial elms, 

And murmuring of innumerable bees." 

So she low- toned ; while with shut eyes I lay 
Listening ; then looked. Pale was the perfect face ; 
The bosom with long sighs laboured ; and meek 
Seemed the full lips, and mild the luminous eyes. 
And the voice trembled and the hand. She said 
Brokenly, that she knew it, she had fail'd 
In sweet humility ; had faiFd in all ; 
That all her labour was but as a block 
Left in the quarry ; but she still were loth. 
She still were loth to yield herself to one 

A MEDLEY. 185 

That wholly scorned to help their equal rights 
Against the sons of men, and barbarous laws. 
She pray'd me not to judge their cause from her 
That wrong'd it, sought far less for truth than 

In knowledge : something wild within her breast, 
A greater than all knowledge, beat her down. 
And she had nursed me there from week to week : 
Much had she learnt in little time. In part 
It was ill counsel had misled the girl 
To vex true hearts : yet was she but a girl — 
" Ah fool, and made myself a Queen of farce ! 
When comes another such ? never, I think, 
Till the Sun drop, dead, from the signs." 

Her voice 

Choked, and her forehead sank upon her hands, 
And her great heart thro' all the faultful Past 
Went sorrowing in a pause I dared not break ; 
Till notice of a change in the dark world 
Was lispt about the acacias, and a bird, 


That early woke to feed her little ones, 
Sent from a dewy breast a cry for light : 
She moved, and at her feet the volume fell 

" Blame not thyself too much," I said, " nor 

Too much the sons of men and barbarous laws ; 
These were the rough ways of the world till now. 
Henceforth thou hast a helper, me, that know 
The woman's cause is man's : they rise or sink 
Together, dwarf d or godlike, bond or free : 
For she that out of Lethe scales with man 
The shining steps of Nature, shares with man 
His nights, his days, moves with him to one goal, 
Stays all the fair young planet in her hands — 
If she be small, slight-natured, miserable. 
How shall men grow ? but work no more alone ! 
Our place is much : as far as in us lies 
We two will serve them both in aiding her — 
Will clear away the parasitic forms 

A MEDLEY, 187 

That seem to keep her up but drag her down — 
Will leave her space to burgeon out of all 
Within her — let her make herself her own 
To give or keep, to live and learn and be 
All that not harms distinctive womanhood. 
For woman is not undevelopt man, 
But diverse : could we make her as the man, 
Sweet Love were slain : his dearest bond is this, 
Not like to like, but like in difference. 
Yet in the long years liker must they grow ; 
The man be more of woman, she of man ; 
He gain in sweetness and in moral height. 
Nor lose the wrestling thews that throw the world ; 
She mental breadth, nor fail in child ward care. 
Nor lose the childlike in the larger mind ; 
Till at the last she set herself to man. 
Like perfect music unto noble words ; 
And so these twain, upon the skirts of Time, 
Sit side by side, fuU-summ'd in all their powers, 
Dispensing harvest, sowing the To-be, 


Self-reverent each and reverencing each, 
Distinct in individuaUties, 
But Hke each other ev'n as those who love. 
Then comes the statelier Eden back to men : 
Then reign the world's great bridals, chaste and 
calm : 

Then springs the crowning race of humankind. 
May these things be ! " 

Sighing she spoke " I fear 

They will not." 

" Dear, but let us type them now 
In our own lives, and this proud watchword rest 
Of equal ; seeing either sex alone 
Is half itself, and in true marriage lies 
Nor equal, nor unequal : each fulfils 
Defect in each, and always thought in thought, 
Purpose in purpose, will in will, they grow, 
The single pure and perfect animal, 
The two-cell'd heart beating, with one full stroke, 

A MEDLEY. 189 

And again sighing she spoke : " A dream 
That once was mine ! what woman taught you 

" Alone/' I said, " from earher than I know, 
Immersed in rich foreshadowings of the world, 
I loved the woman : he, that doth not, lives 
A drowning life, besotted in sweet self, 
Or pines in sad experience worse than death, 
Or keeps his winged affections dipt with crime : 
Yet was there one thro' whom I loved her, one 
Not learned, save in gracious household ways, 
Not perfect, nay, but full of tender wants, 
No Angel, but a dearer being, all dipt 
In Angel instincts, breathing Paradise, 
Interpreter between the Gods and men, 
Who look'd all native to her place, and yet 
On tiptoe seem'd to touch upon a sphere 
Too gross to tread, and all male minds perforce 
Sway'd to her from their orbits as they moved. 


And girdled her with music. Happy he 
With such a mother ! faith in womankind 
Beats with his blood, and trust in all things 

Comes easy to him, and tho^ he trip and fall 
He shall not blind his soul with clay." 

'^But I," 

Said Ida, tremulously, ^*so all unlike — 
It seems you love to cheat yourself with words : 
This mother is your model. I have heard 
Of your strange doubts : they well might be : I 

A mockery to my own self. Never, Prince ; 
You cannot love me." 

" Nay but thee" I said 
" From yearlong poring on thy pictured eyes, 
Ere seen I loved, and loved thee seen, and saw 
Thee woman thro' the crust of iron moods 
That masked thee from men's reverence up, and 

A 'medley. 191 

Sweet love on pranks of saucy boyhood : now, 
Giv'n back to life, to life indeed, thro^ thee, 
Indeed I love : the new day comes, the light 
Dearer for night, as dearer thou for faults 
Lived over : lift thine eyes ; my doubts are dead, 
My haunting sense of hollow shows : the change, 
This truthful change in thee has kill'd it. Dear, 
Look up, and let thy nature strike on mine, 
Like yonder morning on the blind half-world ; 
Approach and fear not ; breathe upon my brows ; 
In that fine air I tremble, all the past 
Melts mist-like into this bright hour, and this 
Is morn to more, and all the rich to-come 
Reels, as the golden Autumn woodland reels 
Athwart the smoke of burning weeds. Forgive 

I waste my heart in signs : let be. My bride, 
My wife, my life. O we will walk this world, 
Yoked in all exercise of noble end. 
And so thro' those dark gates across the wild 


That no man knows. Indeed I love thee : come, 
Yield thyself up : my hopes and thine are one : 
Accomplish thou my manhood and thyself ; 
Lay thy sweet hands in mine and trust to me." 


So closed our tale, of which I give you all 
The random scheme as wildly as it rose : 
The words are mostly mine; for when we ceased 
There came a minutes pause, and Walter said, 
" I wish she had not yielded then to me, 
" What, if y oil drest it up poetically 
So pray d the men, the women : I gave assent : 
Yet how to bind the scattered scheme of seven 
Together in one sheaf? What style could suit f 
The men required that I should give throughout 
The sort of mock-heroic gigantesque, 
With which we banter' d little Lilia first : 
The women — and perhaps they felt their power, 
For something in the ballads which they sang, 
Or in their silent influence as they sat, 
Had ever seemed to wrestle with burlesque. 
And drove us, last, to quite a solemn close — 
They hated banter, wished for so7nethi7ig real^ 


A gallant fight ^ a noble princess — why 

Not 7nake her true-heroic — true-sublime ? 

Or all, they said, as earnest as the close ? 

Which yet with such a framework scarce could be. 

The7i rose a little feud betwixt the two, 

Betwixt the ?nockers and the realists : 

And I, betwixt them both, to please them both, 

And yet to give the story as it rose, 

I moved as i7i a strange diagonal, 

And 7naybe neither pleased myself nor them. 

But Lilia pleased me, for she took no part 
In our dispute : the sequel of the tale 
Had touch! d herj and she sat, she plucked the 

She flung it from her, thinking : last, she fixt 
A showery glance upon her aunt, and said, 

You — tellus what we are'^ who might have told, 
For she was crammed with theories otct of books, 
But that there rose a shout : the gates were closed 

A MEDLEY, 195 

At sunset, and the crowd were swarming now^ 
To take their leave, about the garden rails. 

So I and some went out to these : we climbed 
The slope to Vivian-place, and turning saw 
The happy valleys, half in light, and half 
Far-shadowing from the west, a land of peace j 
Gray halls alone among their massive groves j 
Trim hamlets j here and there a rustic tower 
Half lost in belts of hop and breadths of wheat j 
The shimmering glimpses of a stream; the seasj 
A red sail, or a white; and far beyond. 
Imagined more than seen, the skirts of France. 

" Look there, a garden /" said my college 

The Tory member's elder son, " and there / 
God bless the narrow sea which keeps her off. 
And keeps our Britain, whole within herself, 
A nation yet, the rulers and the ruled — 


Some sense of duty, something of a faith, 
Some reverence for the laws ourselves have made. 
Some patient force to change them when we will, 
Some civic manhood firm against the crowd — 
But yonder, whiff! there comes a sudden heat. 
The gravest citizen seems to lose his head, 
The king is scared, the soldier will not fight, 
The little boys begin to shoot and stab, 
A kingdo7n topples over with a shriek 
Like an old woman, and down rolls the world 
hi mock heroics stranger than our own; 
Revolts, republics, revolutions, most 
No graver than a schoolboy^ barring outj 
Too comic for the solemn things they are. 
Too solemn for the comic touches in them, 
Like our wild Princess with as wise a dream 
As some of theirs — God bless the narrow seas / 
I wish they were a whole Atlantic broad" 

" Have patience I replied, " ourselves are full 

A MEDLEY. 197 

Of social wrong J and maybe wildest dreams 
Are but the needful preludes of the truth : 
For me^ the genial day, the happy crowd, 
The sport half science, fill me with a faith, 
This fine old world of ours is but a child 
Yet in the go-cart. Patience ! Give it ti7ne 
To learn its limbs : there is a hand that guides P 

In such discourse we gained the garden rails, 
And there we saw Sir Walter where he stood, 
Before a tower ofcritnson holly -oaks, 
Among six boys, head under head, and lool^d 
No little lily-handed Baronet he, 
A great broad-shouldered genial Englishman, 
A lord of fat prize-oxen and of sheep, 
A raiser of huge melons and of pine, 
A patron of some thirty charities, 
A pamphleteer on guano and on grain, 
A quarter-sessions chairman, abler none ; 
Fair-haired a?id redder than a windy morn ; 


Now shaking hands with him, now him^ of those 
That stood the nearest — now address'' d to speech — 
Who spoke few words and pithy ^ such as closed 
Welcome^ farewell^ and welcome for the year 
To follow : a shout rose again, and made 
The long Urn of the approaching rookery swerve 
From the ehns, and shook the branches of the deer 
From slope to slope thro' distant ferns, and rang 
Beyond the bourn of sunset j a shout 
More joyful than the city-roar that hails 
Premier or king! Why should not these great 

Give up their parks some dozen times a year 
To let the people breathe ? So thrice they cried, 
I likewise, and in groups they stream! d away. 

But we went back to the Abbey, and sat on, 
So much the gathering darkness charmed : we sat 
But spoke not, rapt in nameless reverie, 
Perchance upon the future man : the walls 



Blackened about us^ bats wheeVd^ and owls 

And gradually the powers of the nighty 
That range above the region of the wind, 
Deepening the courts of twilight broke them up 
Thro' all the silent spaces of the worlds, 
Beyond all thought into the Heaven of Heavens. 

Last little Lilia, rising quietly, 
Disrobed the glimmering statue of Sir Ralph 
From those rich silks ^ and home well-pleased we